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SBIR Phase II: Controlling plant pathogens with novel seed treatments based on nematode-produced ascarosides

Investigators
Murli Manohar
Institutions
Ascribe Bioscience Inc.
Start date
2020
End date
2022
Objective
The broader impact of this Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) phase II project is to develop a novel seed treatment technology, based on naturally occurring small molecules proven to strongly activate plant?s natural defenses against a wide range of agriculturally important pathogens. The proposed innovation is active at extremely low concentrations, can be readily synthesized in large quantities, and is biodegradable and non-toxic. Every year, approximately 500 million kg of more than 600 different chemical pesticide types are used; this costs an estimated $10 billion and yet 37% of all crops are still destroyed by pests and pathogens. By providing an alternative, effective method for managing diseases in crops, dependence on existing agrochemicals, synthetic fungicides and antibiotics will be reduced, as will the rate of resistance development. The proposed research will establish viability of a natural small molecule as a crop protectant and can improve the economic and environmental sustainability of agriculture by reducing the use of potentially harmful pesticides and significantly enhancing global food security.

The proposed project seeks to develop a novel control for plant pathogens by leveraging a class of small, naturally occurring molecules that elicit specific immune responses in plants. The proposed project will demonstrate a seed-coating formulation capable of long-term stability and efficacy under field conditions, adversely affecting neither seed germination/ growth nor natural microbe/insect populations. The project objectives are to 1) Perform multi-location field trials with wheat and soybean against three high-impact pathogens to confirm efficacy of seed treatments; 2) Conduct greenhouse studies to investigate potential synergies of seed and spray treatments, including in combination with other crop protection agents; 3) Determine effects of seed or spray treatments on nematode infestation in soybean; 4) Scale chemical synthesis of the active ingredient and optimize the seed-coating formulation.

This award reflects NSF's statutory mission and has been deemed worthy of support through evaluation using the Foundation's intellectual merit and broader impacts review criteria.
Funding Source
United States Nat'l. Science Fndn.
Project source
View this project
Project number
1951164
Categories
Parasites
Chemical Contaminants