News & Insights

Microbes Play a Crucial Role in Farming, a Thirty Year Journey

by Desmond Jimenez, Chief Product Officer

July was significant for NewLeaf Symbiotics and agriculture. We announced a long-term partnership with Joyn Bio. Together, New Leaf and Joyn will work collectively to accelerate our shared vision to bring economic innovation and ecological resilience to global agriculture. This alliance will explore opportunities combining New Leaf’s world-class microbial technology with Ginko Bioworks’ platform for organism design. We shared the news with investors, agribusiness executives, agricultural futurists, and food growers at AgTech Nexus USA, an event that focuses the leaders in the agricultural industry on the trajectory of a modern food system, promoting the need for a holistic view, integrating agriculture into a robust ecosystem while ameliorating some of the denigrations of the late industrial age.

For NewLeaf, the collaboration with Joyn is a significant milestone. For me, it’s realizing a long-standing commitment to pioneering innovative opportunities designed to offer cost-effective, high-performance and environmentally responsible solutions. From the microbiology of Tucson’s aquifers to the microbiome of honeybees, I started down this path 30 years ago. Coming out of the University of Arizona with a PhD in Food Science and Nutritional Biochemistry, I knew my place was at the intersection of agriculture and food science, bringing together technologies that respect the environment and increase nutritional security.

Along the way, there were a few key step changes.  At Novo Nordisk, I developed microbial metabolites and Bacillus thuringienis-based biopesticides. At Agraquest our biofungicides set a new standard for biologicals; bringing performance equal to traditional chemistry while improving worker safety and reducing environmental risk.

Most recently, I’ve watched science, regulation, and consumer demand change how contemporary agriculture addresses nitrogen use efficiency. Our collaboration with Joyn capitalizes research and development in this complex, yet critically important aspect of the global economy. My hope as both companies work together is that this will be the next step-change in global agriculture.  As the famous microbiologist and biophysicist Carl Woese said, “Our task now is to resynthesize biology; put the organism back into its environment; connect it again to its evolutionary past; and let us feel that complex flow that is organism, evolution, and environment united. The time has come for biology to enter the nonlinear world.”

For over 100 years beneficial microbes have delivered the most promising and renewable of all agricultural biotechnologies. At NewLeaf, we’re tapping into the endless potential of plant-microbe interactions. With the toolbox at Joyn, we will hone future technologies that deliver positive impact throughout ag crops, farming practices, and beyond.

NewLeaf Symbiotics is a plant microbiome company engaged in discovery, development, and commercialization of the proprietary plant colonizing microbes, called M-trophs. Through our Terrasym® brand, we commercialize products with naturally-occurring M-trophs to help farmers increase yield by promoting stronger plants with better nutrient uptake. Our deep undivided focus on M-trophs, leverages a group of microbes that gave science the first insight into how naturally occurring micro-organisms commissioned mobile genetic elements to create a mutually beneficial symbiotic relationship with plants. The interaction between Joyn and New Leaf will embed that inspiration in its scientific rigor and its ethics.  Together we will work to deliver the next milestones in directed plant-microbe evolution.

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