Missouri Patent of the Month – March 2021
NewLeaf Symbiotics is an agriculture technology company that discovers, develops, produces and commercializes a new class of safe, sustainable and effective ag biologicals. Their products improve crop health, increase yield and are paving the way towards solving the billion dollar corn rootworm problem. Recently, they have been working on a way to produce Methylobacterium for use in crops and algae-based biofuels. Methylobacterium use methane and methanol as their carbon source. Plants excrete methanol and Methylobacterium are found on the leaves of most plants. They help the plants in their nitrogen metabolism, germination, and even stimulate plant growth. So, the use of Methylobacterium to increase crop and algae production would be very beneficial, but also requires a very large-scale of production.
Methylobacterium are notoriously slow growers and historically, don’t grow well in lab created plant-based mediums. NewLeaf Symbiotics developed a fermentation broth with a solid and liquid phase. The solid phase contains a monoculture of Methylobacterium as well as plant parts (e.g. seeds). The liquid phase contains salts like potassium and phosphate, methanol, and amino acids. This combination results in the fermentation of Methylobacterium at a rate 5 times greater than conventional methods. The components are relatively cost effective and allow for a massive increase in yield.
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