InteliSpark client, Ascribe Bioscience, Inc. has been awarded a grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF) for their project, “Controlling plant pathogens with novel seed treatments based on nematode-produced ascarosides”. In this Phase I project, Ascribe Bioscience will set out to develop a seed treatment technology for plants, based on small naturally occurring molecules proven to activate natural defenses against a wide range of agriculturally important pathogens. The goal of this project is to improve the economic and environmental sustainability of agriculture by reducing the use of potentially harmful pesticides and significantly enhance food security worldwide.
Ascribe Bioscience’s proposed innovation will address the need to adjust crop production and distribution to feed a projected world population of over 9 billion people in 2050, by providing an alternative effective method for managing transmissible diseases in major crops. Ascribe’s innovation of plant protectant is active at very low concentrations, can be readily synthesized in large quantities, and is biodegradable and non-toxic. In addition, the dependence on existing agrochemicals such as copper, synthetic fungicides and antibiotics will be reduced, as will the rate of resistance development.
With the grant money from the NSF, Ascribe will attempt to develop a novel control for plant pathogens by leveraging a class of small, naturally occurring molecules that elicit specific immune responses in plants. In their Phase I project, they will develop a seed-coating formulation capable of long-term stability and efficacy, without adverse effect on seed germination or natural microbe/insect populations. They will focus on optimizing the synthesis of the compound of interest, and develop a stable commercially viable formulation that is effective across a breadth of crops. The seed product developed will establish technical and economic feasibility of using small-molecule signals to activate plant immune responses and demonstrate their utility to improve economic and environmental sustainability of agriculture.