BioConsortia’s Advanced Microbial Selection (AMS) platform uses the microbial community as the transmissible agent of trait heritability in an iterative process of plant phenotypic screening and selection. This strategy of directed plant-microbe selection, coupled with microbiome analyses enables the identification of complementary microbes that drive trait development.
Microbial colonization of plants occurs as soon as seeds are planted in the soil. The ultimate community structure is determined by a combination of plant-induced selection and random occurrence based on the microbial community of the soil and their proximity to the seed. By surrounding the seed with the beneficial microbes that we have isolated, we reduce the element of chance from this process and provide the plant with a strong, advantageous team as it germinates and grows.
It sounds simple, but finding microbes that influence a specific plant trait requires a strategy that moves beyond the conventional R&D model of testing microbes one-by-one from a library and can address both the complexity of plant-microbe interactions and the vast genetic and physiological diversity of both microbes and plants.
We achieve this by utilizing the power of the plant as our primary agent for acquisition and screening for beneficial microbial consortia. Similar to plant breeding, the AMS process works by the model of directed selection; causing a shift in a crop’s microbial community structure and in the expression of certain phenotypes towards an advantageous microbiome and superior plant traits. To accomplish this, BioConsortia uses a high through-put approach to screen thousands of plants, identifying superior phenotypes and selecting the plant-associated microbiome for inoculation of the next round of plants. This iterative process of microbial inoculation, plant screening and selection shifts the microbial community towards highly effective plant colonizers that affect improved expression of traits. We then isolate and identify the microbial team that is associated with the superior plants. High-throughput microbial screening and DNA sequencing, which is used in combination with our AMS process, informs the isolation and selection of microbes responsible for influencing the expression of beneficial traits. These microbes are then formulated into products compatible with other conventionally applied treatments.
By focusing on a specific plant phenotype as our selection target we are able to tailor our process to develop microbial solutions for many crops and many traits regardless of a priori knowledge of whether they are influenced by the plant and soil microbiome. Current focus lies in fertilizer use efficiency, growth improvement and abiotic stress tolerance, with the ability for future development of products for biotic stresses and metabolite enhancement.
Our revolutionary AMS process recognizes that microbes occur in nature as communities of multiple interacting organisms. We are producing a new generation of microbial products for plant improvement that harnesses the collective power and resilience of our rigorously selected consortia.