Genome Canada Annual Report 2016-17 11 T he Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations predicts that world food production will have to increase by 70 per cent before 2050 to feed a growing global population. That goal is complicated by the need for crops to adapt to the extreme conditions of climate change and by the increasing loss of freshwater sources. Achieving global food security despite these conditions is considered such a compelling challenge that it is the second of 17 United Nations Sus- tainable Development Goals, after the eradication of poverty. Scientists have risen to that challenge by deploy- ing the research tools unleashed by genomics. This effort is comparable to the Green Revolution of the 1960s that used advances in agronomy to drasti- cally increase crop yields in India and other developing countries. In describing the need for a sec- ond Green Revolution, philanthropist Bill Gates said, “The charge is clear— we have to develop crops that can grow in a drought; that can survive in a flood; that can resist pests and dis- ease...we need higher yields on the same land in harsher weather.” The Genome Canada-funded Augmenting the Plant Microbiome to Improve Crop Yield and Stress Resilience project builds on a break- through in genomic crop science by University of Saskatchewan microbi- ologists Vladimir Vujanovic and Jim Germida. Drs. Vujanovic and Germida discovered a group of symbiotic microbes in plant tissues that may enable substantially improved seed germination, yield, and drought- and heat-stress resilience in more than 20 varieties of wheat, barley, pulses and canola. These crops account for more than $15 billion in annual pro- duction in Canada alone. Indigo’s translation and commer- cialization of this research will help farmers by expediting the develop- ment of crops that are healthier and produce higher yields. Already, the University of Saskatchewan part- nership with Indigo has produced a potential microbial treatment for major crops that is being evaluated as a candidate for commercial launch. “The synergy created by the partnership has impacted Indigo’s innovation platform and helped the company to further optimize the potential of the microbial treatments,” said Ray Riley, senior vice-president, product development at Indigo. “In the course of the partnership, Indigo (formerly known as Symbiota) has more than doubled its employee count and launched its first products.” “ This highly successful partnership represented a successful public–private collaboration on finding solutions impacting time-to-market of innovative agricultural products. We are hopeful that this relationship has opened doors for additional opportunities for similar partnerships that bring value to the growers and the environment.” — Ray Riley, senior vice-president, product development, Indigo Agriculture The Augmenting the Plant Microbiome to Improve Crop Yield and Stress Resilience project aims to dramatically improve yield and stress resistance in food crops. This $24.4-million project, a collaboration with Genome Prairie and others, received $16 million through the Genomic Applications Partnership Program. University of Saskatchewanʼs Dr. Vladimir Vujanovic (RIGHT) and colleague.