The Institute for Advanced Learning and Research and LiveGrow Bio last week announced a partnership to develop microbial biostimulant and biocontrol solutions for growers and the agriculture industry.

Pending successful testing, the potential new products could enter commercial production on an accelerated timeline, offering growers natural, healthy alternatives to chemical fertilizers and pesticides.

“The agricultural biologicals market is growing rapidly as farmers are seeking synthetic, chemical-free solutions,” said Mark Gignac, executive director of IALR. “This collaboration represents the next step in taking our endophytes to market. Our applied research experience and expertise in endophytes will be combined with LiveGrow Bio’s patented formulation and delivery system in a mutually beneficial partnership that will ultimately benefit farmers across the region and beyond.”

“Our partnership with IALR is an important piece of our product development pipeline over the next two years. By leveraging their extensive work with endophytes, our team can accelerate the identification of the most effective microbes for various crop segments that we are currently targeting. Combined with our patented microbial manufacturing and formulation technology this will allow us to quickly test commercial formulations of these microbes in the field, significantly reducing our timeline for launch of new products,” said Andrey Pinchuk, president and CEO of LiveGrow Bio.

As part of the agreement, IALR will provide LiveGrow Bio some of IALR’s most promising plant endophytes, or beneficial bacteria that were once living inside plants. These extracted microorganisms are from the library of more than 2,000 endophytes collected, characterized and researched by IALR’s Plant Endophyte Research Center, the first of its kind in the U.S.

The plant endophytes serve as biostimulants by naturally stimulating plant growth and health, reducing the need for chemical fertilizer use and offering sustainable agricultural solutions. They also serve as biocontrol agents by contributing to natural pest control, providing a healthier alternative to chemical pesticides and improving the environment and soil quality. Collectively, biostimulants and biocontrol agents are known as biologicals.

“Establishing high-value and mutually beneficial partnerships such as this represents an important next step in bringing our natural biological solutions to the market,” said Dr. Scott Lowman, director of applied research at IALR.

LiveGrow Bio will provide a unique, low-cost microbial manufacturing and formulationplatform designed to maintain and administer the benefits of the endophytes while meeting the needs of the end user.

Of particular advantage is the innovative platform’s ability to accommodate hard-to-formulate and -store biologicals based on Gram-negative bacteria. Most commonly, today’s biologicals integrate Gram-positive bacteria and fungi that produce spores, which allows them to be stored and have a shelf life.

The often more efficient Gram-negative bacteria do not produce spores, making them poor candidates for the market in spite of their known high efficacy in the field. However, LiveGrow Bio’s platform provides an effective production, formulation, and delivery solution, which allows them to utilize any Gram-negative as a commercial product and expands opportunities for more diverse and highly effective product development options. In addition, LiveGrow Platform produces non-dormant products, which allows for a lower application rate while making their response in the field order of magnitude faster and more effective than the dormant spore-based products.

As published authors and international experts on Gram-negative beneficial bacteria, IALR scientists will partner with LiveGrow Bio on the research and development of the microbial biological solutions. The two teams will combine IALR’s most promising endophytic bacteria with LiveGrow Bio’s platform and test the resulting pilot products on both the east and west coasts to ensure efficacy across diverse climates, environments and soil types. Once successful combinations are found, commercialization will be explored, leading to availability to growers.

The Institute for Advanced Learning and Research serves Virginia as a regional catalyst for economic transformation with advanced learning, applied research, advanced manufacturing, conference center services and economic development efforts. IALR’s major footprint focuses within Southern Virginia, including the counties of Patrick, Henry, Franklin, Pittsylvania, Halifax and Mecklenburg along with the cities of Martinsville and Danville. For more information, visit ialr.org.

LiveGrow Bio is a biotechnology company that has developed a platform allowing for cost-effective and field-effective manufacturing and formulation of any microbial organism. This LiveGrow™ Platform enables successful commercialization of a vast array of effective microbial organisms. LiveGrow Bio is focused on leading the next wave of agricultural innovation via highly concentrated metabolically active formulation of biopesticides and biostimulants to overcome growing pest resistance and ineffective, high-cost microbial products that currently exist in the marketplace. For more information, visit livegrowbio.com