Endophyte seed treatment offers N fixing boost

By Unium Bioscience

A new seed and potential foliar treatment that enables crops to fix atmospheric nitrogen will be available to growers from this autumn. Its launch is said to represent the first commercialisation globally of endophyte (symbiotic microorganisms that colonise plants) technologies from the University of Washington.

Over the past two decades the university’s Prof Sharon Doty has characterised the endophyte strains for safety, efficiency at making N and P bioavailable, ability to increase photosynthesis and water use efficiency, as well as promoting healthy growth under stress conditions.

The research has been taken up by  Intrinsyx Bio (USA) , who are commercialising the technology because of the potential endophytes confer to crop production systems and for long term space travel.

Dr John Freeman, plant biogeochemist and chief science officer at Intrinsyx Bio says: “These endophytic microbes cause crop plants, grasses, ornamental plants, and trees to fix nitrogen directly from the atmosphere into ammonia, which helps improve nutrient use efficiency, supplements synthetic fertiliser requirements, increasing yield and quality.”.

After three years development in the UK in cereals, oilseed rape, sugar beet and potatoes, Unium Bioscience is offering the technology to UK growers initially as a seed treatment, branded Tiros, with plans for foliar products to follow.

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