Biotech Updates

Engineering Self-fertilizing Plants to Reduce Environmental Footprint

December 4, 2019

Scientists from Joyn Bio are attempting to engineer microbes that can make plants self-fertilizing, thus reducing the environmental impact of agriculture.

Joyn Bio is a join ag-tech venture between synthetic biology company Ginkgo Bioworks and Bayer. Their researchers are searching for ways to design microbes that can remove the use of synthetic fertilizers, which have boosted crop yields over the past century but have harmed soil health and caused environmental concerns.

Joyn Bio CEO Mike Miille explains that the engineered microbe would work like a Fedex truck running all over the plant to deliver cargo. The cargo then takes nitrogen from the air, converts it into nitrogen that the plant requires, and then gives it to the plant. Once this becomes successful, the technology will allow farmers to reduce their fertilizer use by 30 to 40 percent, saving them money while protecting the environment.

Read more from Food Navigator.

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