Biological alternatives offer hope for biodiversity restoration

Newswise – This week the United Nations is meeting in Montreal for the UN Biodiversity Conference. The conference brings together leaders from around the world to discuss how to prevent biodiversity loss and restore already degraded habitats.

In the agricultural world, creating new, biological alternatives to synthetic products is a promising strategy for the future of biodiversity and a major area of ​​interest for innovators. Simply put, an organic alternative is a product that identifies a plant’s natural resistance to an environmental stressor and enhances that quality to create an exceptionally successful version of it. The introduction of such products offers an effective and greener replacement for synthetic chemicals that we now know to be toxic to the environment (and sometimes humans). The scientists and startups in the Wells Fargo Innovation Incubator (IN2) work to create these products and, in turn, a healthier future for people and the planet.

How biologics promote biodiversity

Synthetic chemical products can have a negative impact on soil health. Unhealthy soil makes it difficult for a diverse plant population to grow, reducing food sources for pollinators and other insects. When insect populations suffer so are the birds that eat these insects, and so on up the food chain. Bad soils are bad for biodiversity.

In the past, synthetic pesticides and fungicides were necessary to ensure sufficient crop yields to meet the needs of the world’s eight billion people. The threat of harmful insects, bacteria and fungi is growing with globalization and climate change. The warmer seasons allow these pests to thrive in months of the year that were previously too cold for them to feed, and the changing climate has allowed them to expand the range of their habitats to new areas. Globalization and the increased proliferation of materials around the world have allowed pests to enter non-native habitats. there they can particularly badly infest native plants and animals in new territory that have no natural resistance to them.

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As these stressors worsen, the need for effective fungicides and pesticides increases. But the mass use of chemical plastics is not sustainable. This is where biological alternatives come in, offering a tool to combat agricultural threats without fighting the environment.

“The shift from synthetic to natural products can have a positive impact on biodiversity,” said Elliott Kellner, PhD, director of commercial innovation at the Danforth Center. “Given the complex interconnections between ecosystem components, avoiding unintended outcomes from the use of synthetic plant supplements can potentially lead to large-scale improvements in ecosystem function and resilience.”

Wells Fargo Innovation Incubator Innovators lead the way

Two of the companies selected for this year’s Wells Fargo Innovation Incubator cohort are doing the work necessary to bring new biological alternatives to life. Robigo of Cambridge, Massachusetts, is developing targeted, eco-friendly biopesticides that will pave the way for healthier soils and more productive crops. cytophage of Winnipeg, Manitoba, is developing bacteriophage to combat pathogenic bacteria affecting crops. and Peptyde Bio of St. Louis, Missouri, is developing biofungicides as a natural solution to combat fungal diseases.

The Wells Fargo Innovation Incubator brings select startup companies like these together with the world-renowned scientists at The Danforth Center, giving them complimentary access to our facilities and expertise. The extensive research and data required to turn an idea from a dream into a reality can be extremely costly for small startups. By supporting start-ups at this stage, the Wells Fargo Innovation Incubator positions promising innovators so their ideas can be realized and brought to market.

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“The best plant researchers in the world are here at the Danforth Center,” said Kellner. “The expertise of our research teams is the core value proposition of IN2 Program.”

To learn more about Wells Fargo’s Innovation Incubator, visit his page on our website.

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