Syngenta Biologicals and Intrinsyx Bio announce agreement involving endophytes

Endophytes consist of an ecological group of microorganisms, mainly fungi and bacteria, that establish a symbiotic relationship with the internal tissues of plants.

08.07.2024 | 07:53 (UTC -3)
Cultivar Magazine, based on information from Robert Brown

Syngenta Biologicals and Intrinsyx Bio, a Silicon Valley biotechnology company, announced an agreement to expand farmers' access to a customized selection of Intrinsyx Bio's proprietary endophyte formulations.

The endophytes covered by the deal between the companies are small microorganisms that colonize plants and fix atmospheric nitrogen. They increase the availability and absorption of essential nutrients such as phosphorus and micronutrients. As reported by Syngenta and Intrinsyx Bio, this reduces the need for fertilizers, offering farmers greater flexibility in their nutrient management strategies. The formulations will be offered as seed treatment and foliar application on key agricultural crops.

"This collaboration reflects Syngenta's commitment to transforming the future of agriculture, with innovations that improve agricultural sustainability," said Jonathan Brown, Global Head of Syngenta Biologicals and Seedcare.

“This agreement represents yet another opportunity to expand the reach of our ‘biology that works.’ Partnering with Syngenta allows farmers around the world to benefit from endophytes’ proven mode of action and extensive field trials that improve crop efficiency. nutrient use and increase crop yields,” explained Greg Thompson, CEO of Intrinsyx Bio.

Image featured by Intrinsyx Bio
Image featured by Intrinsyx Bio

What are endophytes

Endophytes consist of an ecological group of microorganisms, mainly fungi and bacteria, that establish a symbiotic relationship with the internal tissues of plants.

Rather than a specific genus, endophytes encompass a wide diversity of species belonging to different taxonomic phyla. This diversity is reflected in the different roles that these microorganisms can play in the physiology and health of the host plant.

Unlike disease-causing pathogens, endophytes reside within plant tissues without causing harm and provide numerous benefits that boost crop health and productivity.

Studies on endophytes

There are several scientific studies involving endophytes. Below are summaries of two:

(a) Variable nitrogen fixation in Populus wild:

"The microbiome of plants is diverse and, like that of animals, is important for overall health and nutrient acquisition. In legumes and actinorhizal plants, a portion of essential nitrogen (N) is obtained through symbiosis with N2-fixing microorganisms that inhabit nodules. However, a variety of non-nodulating plant species can also thrive in low-N natural environments. Some of these species may rely on endophytes, microorganisms that live inside plants, to fix N2 gas into usable forms. Here we report the first direct evidence of N2 fixation in the early successional wild tree, Populus trichocarpa, a non-leguminous tree, from its native riparian habitat. To measure N2 fixation, surface-sterilized wild poplar cuttings were tested using 15N2 incorporation and the commonly used acetylene reduction assay. The 15N label was incorporated at high levels in a subset of cuttings, suggesting a high level of N fixation. Similarly, acetylene was reduced to ethylene in some samples. The microbiota of the cuttings was highly variable, both in number of bacteria cultivated and in genetic diversity. Our results indicated that associative N fixation occurred in wild poplar and that a non-uniformity in the distribution of endophytic bacteria may explain the variability in N fixation activity. These results point to the need for molecular studies to decipher the necessary microbial consortia and the conditions for effective endophytic N2 fixation in trees." - doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0155979

(b) Phosphorus solubilization promoted by endophytes in Populus:

"Phosphorus is an important nutrient for plants, but in soils most phosphorus, present in the form of phosphate, forms metal complexes in the soil, making it relatively unavailable to plants. Therefore, solubilization of inorganic phosphate is an important process of promoting plant growth by plant-associated bacteria and fungi. Non-nodulating plant species have been shown to thrive in nutrient-poor environments, in some cases relying on plant-associated microorganisms called endophytes. These microorganisms live inside the plant and help provide nutrients to it. Despite its potentially enormous environmental importance, there are a limited number of studies that analyze the direct molecular impact of phosphate-solubilizing endophytic bacteria on the host plant. In this work, we studied the impact of two endophyte strains of wild poplar (Populus trichocarpa) that solubilize phosphate. Using a combination of X-ray imaging, spectroscopy and proteomics methods, we report direct evidence of endophyte-promoted phosphorus uptake in poplars. We found that phosphate solubilized inside the plant can react and become insoluble again, suggesting that phosphate could be re-released inside the plant by endophytes. Using synchrotron X-ray fluorescence spectromicroscopy combined with near-edge structure of X-ray absorption, we visualized the nutrient phosphorus within poplar roots inoculated by selected endophytes and found phosphorus in both organic and inorganic phosphate forms within the root. Tomography-based root imaging revealed markedly different root biomass and root architecture for poplar samples inoculated with phosphate-solubilizing bacterial strains. Proteomic characterization in poplar roots together with protein network analysis revealed new proteins and metabolic pathways with possible involvement in the uptake of phosphorus enriched by endophytes. These findings suggest an important role for endophytes in phosphorus acquisition and provide a deeper understanding of the critical symbiotic associations between poplar and endophytic bacteria." - doi.org/10.3389/fpls.2020.567918

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