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Improving on-seed survival and performance of legume inoculants using genome shuffling

Genomic Applications Partnership Program
GAPP Round: 
Agriculture and Agri Food
Genome Centre(s):
Genome Prairie
Project Leader(s):
Christopher Yost (University of Regina)
Receptor Leader(s):
Mike Whiting (Lallemand Plant Care)
Fiscal Year Project Launched: 
Project Description: 

Microbial inoculants promote crop yield through biostimulation and biofertilization. The challenge, however, is to develop rhizobial inoculants – inoculants frequently used to promote legume yields– that remain viable on the plant seed during extended periods of storage before planting and perform optimally once seeded several months later, a process called on-seed survival.

Lallemand Plant Care is a global leader in the development and commercialization of microbe-based technologies for use in human health, animal nutrition, wine making, brewing and agriculture. The company is partnering with Dr. Christopher Yost of the University of Regina to create superior rhizobial inoculant strains currently not available to agricultural producers. The strains will improve desiccation tolerance and improve subsequent on-seed survival. To do so, they will use a technique called genome shuffling, which, with appropriate selection pressures, will accelerate normal evolutionary changes.

Such a groundbreaking enhancement would be eminently marketable in Canada and throughout the world, either integrated into existing product lines or as a new branded product. The inoculant could be sold in the United States within a year of the end of the project, while sales in Canada will take another year to meet Canadian Food Inspection Agency registration requirements. Economic benefits from improved soybean crop yields can be realized within three years of the project’s end. Farmers will see increased profits while decreasing the use of synthetic nitrogen fertilizer, thus helping farmers to incorporate environmental and economic sustainability within their farming operations.