AUG 11, 2016 3:26 PM PDT

Plant Microbiome Promises Higher Crop Yield

WRITTEN BY: Xuan Pham

As scientists are uncovering the many unique microbiomes within our bodies, they are learning to exploit bacteria to treat the diseases that plague us. On a similar note, botanists and ecologists want to take advantage of natural bacteria to grow healthier food crops that can meet the demands of the world's ever-growing population.

This is the aim of start-up company Indigo, based in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Their goal is to customize a cocktail of microbes that would enable the plants to be more tolerant of heat, drought, insects, and other conditions.

While some people associate bacteria infection as being the death of their plants, scientists at Indigo say an infusion of the good bacteria can do wonder for crops. They say using the plant's natural microbiome has the potential to significantly increase crop yield across the board. And this is particularly important we want to keep feeding the population in a sustainable fashion.

"If we're right, this is an innovation that is going to create tens of billions of dollars a year in revenue," said David Perry, Indigo's chief executive. "From a farmer's perspective we can improve their profitability. From a consumer's perspective we can improve the healthfulness of the food and the environment in which it is grown."
About the Author
  • I am a human geneticist, passionate about telling stories to make science more engaging and approachable. Find more of my writing at the Hopkins BioMedical Odyssey blog and at TheGeneTwist.com.
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