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Ginkgo Bioworks and Bayer join forces to engineer plant microbesqrcode

Jul. 30, 2021

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Jul. 30, 2021

Joyn Bio is engineering plant microbes to develop high- performing biologicals to help growers overcome challenges and offer new agricultural solutions. Joyn Bio is an association between Ginkgo Bioworks and Leaps by Bayern. The collaboration brings together Bayer’s experience and knowledge in crop science, along with Ginkgo Bioworks’ technology in synthetic biology leadership.


Although microbiome is crucial for farming practices, much of its power and reach remains unknown. Thousands of samples can be tested at a time by Joyn’s team of microbiologists and engineers thanks to high throughput automation. This allows for the thorough analysis of thousands of isolated organic strains and rapid prototyping of engineered strains, which are later tested in greenhouse and field conditions.


Production and use of industrial nitrogen fertilizer takes up about 3% of natural gas, and also contributes to the same percentage of GHG emissions. One of Joyn’s first challenges is to reduce the amount of nitrogen fertilizer used to grow cereals such wheat, corn or rice. Allowing microbes to produce nitrogen in the roots of crops that can’t make nitrogen on their own, could make a dramatic impact on the industry’s environmental impact. These are currently being trialed in fields throughout the US.


“With our exclusive ag industry access to Ginkgo Bioworks’ advanced synthetic biology platform, as well as Bayer’s microbial application expertise and library of more than 100,000 strains, we can identify, design, engineer, and test these microbes at unprecedented scale. This means we can more quickly and precisely find the microbial strains that will transform agriculture over the coming years.”


The team’s goal is to study the evolution of microbes and their contribution to plant health, so that they can take advantage of their findings to develop and offer better sustainable solutions to the agricultural industry.


“We aim to provide growers with new solutions to feed and nourish the world. By engineering crop-colonizing microbes, we can develop a new class of biologicals that are sustainable and reach unprecedented levels of performance and reliability.”


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