Marrone Bio Innovations, Inc. (NASDAQ: MBII), has acquired exclusive rights to high-performing strains of Streptomyces acidiscabies, allowing for the accelerated commercialization of a new, second-generation bioherbicide, MBI-006. The addition of these strains, developed by and licensed from Novozymes, a world leader in industrial enzymes and microorganisms, will optimize MBI-006’s use rate, lower the cost of production, and enhance performance. This development creates a more competitive bioherbicide for MBI’s entry into the $27 billion herbicide market1 where a growing number of herbicide resistant weeds2 are costing U.S. and Canadian corn and soybean growers upwards of $43 billion dollars a year.3
“Customer response to our bioherbicide pipeline has been extremely positive. Herbicide resistance is a major concern among farmers as there are over 250 weeds showing some herbicide resistance, costing growers billions of dollars in crop damage annually,” said Marrone Bio’s Chief Executive Officer Kevin Helash. “Gaining access to these improved strains will accelerate our ability to commercialize the active ingredient in MBI-006 and provide growers with a much-needed sustainable tool for effective weed management.”
“While our bio-ag efforts are focused on other biocontrol projects, we believe Marrone is well-positioned to take the development of these high-performing strains forward and commercialize them,” said Thomas Stenfeldt Batchelor, Novozymes’ Vice President for Agriculture Marketing and Strategy. “As we prioritize our bio-ag portfolio, out-licensing enables capable third-parties to capitalize on our leading bioinnovation and allows Novozymes to leverage and establish new business models for parts of our technology that fall outside our core areas.”
MBI-006 provides an improvement in efficacy at lower rates over MBI-005, the former herbicidal Streptomyces acidiscabies strain developed and registered with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and Canada’s Pest Management Regulatory Agency. This biotechnological advancement will position the product at a more competitive price point against leading commercial herbicides.
MBI-006 has an uncommon mode of action that inhibits the formation and repair of plant cell walls. As a result, the development of herbicide resistance is rare. The bioherbicide has shown pre- and post-emergent efficacy on a wide spectrum of annual broadleaves, grasses, and sedges and mixes well with most chemical crop protection products and fertilizers.
“We are at an important juncture in the development of our bioherbicide pipeline,” added Amit Vasavada, Ph.D., chief technical officer and senior vice president of research and development for Marrone Bio Innovations. “In addition to MBI-006, we have two other proprietary bioherbicides in development, MBI-011 and MBI-014/015. The latter has shown to have herbicidal activity that is estimated to be 50-to-100 times more active than leading synthetic alternatives. MBI-006 is just the beginning for what we believe will likely be a growing portfolio of highly efficacious bioherbicides.”
The first generation MBI-006 is expected to launch in 2024/2025 for organic and specialty crops, as well as turf, ornamentals and the home and garden market. The second generation of MBI-006 will be targeted at row crops, currently treated by synthetic chemistry, and is anticipated to be commercially available in 2027/2028.
1. IHS Markit, Agrochemical Market Analysis, Industry Overview: 2020 Market.
2. Purdue University, College of Agriculture, Extension Weed Science.
3. Weed Science Society of America.