Marrone Bio Innovations Files Patent on New Microorganism that Controls Plant Parasitic Nematodes

MBI enhances nematicide program with key R&D hires

Jul 24, 2012, 08:30 ET from Marrone Bio Innovations, Inc.

DAVIS, Calif., July 24, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- Marrone Bio Innovations, Inc. (MBI), a leading global provider of natural pest management products for the agricultural and water treatment markets, has filed a patent on the latest discovery from its biopesticide screening platform: a new species of bacteria from a known genus that kills plant parasitic nematodes (also known as roundworms) such as root knot and sting nematodes.


"Our microbial nematicide screen is designed to look for natural products that kill nematodes directly. Resulting products would therefore be more powerful than ones with indirect effects that do not kill the nematodes," said Dr. Phyllis Himmel, Vice President of R&D. "In addition to the new species in this patent filing, we are studying several more strains of bacteria that kill nematodes."

The Society of Nematologists projects global crop losses due to plant parasitic nematodes at $100 billion each year. In the US alone, nematode damage to major crops, such as soybean, cotton, sugar beets, tomatoes and many other fruits and vegetables is estimated to reduce crop yields by more than $5 billion annually. AVRDC (The World Vegetable Center) estimates losses in vegetables range from 17-38 percent. With many chemical pesticides being phased out or restricted due to their toxicity to mammals and other organisms, nematicides from natural products can provide an effective, safer solution.

MBI's patent filing includes a new species of bacterium and the nematicidal compounds it produces during the fermentation process. Some of the natural compounds produced are novel chemical structures. Others are known, but not previously credited with nematicidal properties.   

MBI's research team has developed unique, miniature, bioassays to rapidly test extracts from naturally occurring microorganisms for activity against nematodes. The team then determines whether the active extracts prevent the nematodes from entering plant roots. To capitalize on and continue MBI's nematicide discoveries, the company has hired Dr. Lijung Xing, a nematologist formerly with Syngenta, to lead the nematology/soil pest group at MBI, and a nematologist, Dr. Sylwia Fudali, as senior scientist from Dr. Valerie Williamson's renowned nematology lab at UC Davis.

"Nematicides are an important strategic area for MBI, further broadening our agricultural product line to meet our customers' pressing needs," said Dr. Pam Marrone, CEO and founder. "The additional R&D resources will allow us to more quickly turn our discoveries into commercial products. I am very excited by our successes to date in finding novel nematicide candidates."

MBI's R&D team has isolated over 16,000 microorganisms from diverse habitats and ecological niches and tested them against nematodes, insects, weeds, plant pathogens, and algae.

About Marrone Bio Innovations
Marrone Bio Innovations, Inc. is a leading global provider of natural pest management products for the agricultural and water treatment markets. Its effective and environmentally friendly natural agricultural products provide higher yields and quality while managing pest resistance and residues. Through its proprietary discovery and development platform and strategically in-licensed technologies, MBI has developed a pipeline of advanced and early-stage productsfor the significant agricultural and water treatment markets, including several nematicide, fungicide, algaecide and plant health product candidates. MBI's award-winning products for the agricultural market include the biofungicide Regalia®, and Grandevo™, a broad-spectrum bioinsecticide for controlling insects and mites. The company recently received EPA approval of a novel bioherbicide, and has submitted another broad-spectrum insecticide to the EPA. MBI is launching into the water treatment market with Zequanox®, the industry's first natural product to selectively control invasive zebra and quagga mussels. MBI currently has more than three-dozen patents pending in the U.S. and globally.

SOURCE Marrone Bio Innovations, Inc.