RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK – Research Triangle Park-based AgBiome has tapped Ginkgo Bioworks to help it accelerate the development of new agricultural biologicals and improve existing products used in crop protection.
The agreement, announced last week, is intended to boost AgBiome’s product pipeline by deploying Ginkgo’s advanced biology tools. AgBiome uses the plant microbiome to develop novel crop protection products with stronger resistance to pests.
AgBiome, considered one of the leaders in developing agricultural products using biologics instead of chemicals, will use Ginkgo’s ultra high throughput encapsulated screening capabilities. These processes search for microbial strain variants that have the genetic potential to be developed into products that provide pest resistance.
“AgBiome is committed to creating the most effective crop protection products, and we are always looking for new technologies to enable better performance,” said Scott Uknes, Co-founder and Co-CEO of AgBiome. “We are excited to utilize Ginkgo’s capabilities in ultra high throughput assay development to evolve the next generation of biologicals as we continue to provide growers with improved product efficacy.”
A 2013 spinout of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, AgBiome has raised more than $253 million in funding to date. In September 2021 the company announced a $116 million Series D round. Its proprietary technology, called Genesis, develops products based on natural microbial strains with properties well-suited for agricultural applications.
Boston-based Ginkgo is a biotechnology company with a cell programming platform that helps companies in life sciences, agriculture and other industries develop biological products. The publicly held company reported $478 million in 2022 total revenue.
“We believe we can identify improved variants at massive scale, which can help deliver more potent agricultural biologicals and bring the next generation of products to market,” said Magalie Guilhabert, head of Ag Biologicals at Ginkgo. “We are thrilled to work with an industry leader like AgBiome as we seek to optimize live microbial strain products in their pipeline and provide even better solutions to growers around the world.”
Paul Ulanch, senior director of focused initiatives at the North Carolina Biotechnology Center, said the agreement further cements AgBiome’s standing among startups developing science-based solutions to improve agriculture and other industries.
“The market for crop protection based on biologicals is growing quickly, and AgBiome is at the forefront,” he said. “Working with Ginkgo Bioworks will help them push even more boundaries on developing biological products that can benefit not only growers, but society as a whole.”
(C) N.C. Biotech Center