Fertilizer solution shows power of biotech partnering

Given that global nitrogen fertilizer supplies are threatened by the war in Ukraine, and the use of those fertilizers contributes to climate change, there is an urgent need for biotech alternatives to traditional fertilizer.

A solution may be close at hand thanks to Joyn Bio, a joint venture between the synthetic biology company Ginkgo Bioworks and Leaps by Bayer, the investment arm of life science conglomerate Bayer.

Boston-based Joyn Bio explains that they are developing “an engineered microbe that enables cereal crops like corn, wheat, and rice to convert nitrogen from the air into a form they can use, significantly reducing the environmental impact of agriculture’s reliance on chemical fertilizers.”

Many plants, like soybeans, peanuts and other legumes, naturally use microbes in the soil to achieve this kind of nitrogen fixation. Joyn Bio explains that their innovation uses synthetic biology to alter the microbes that naturally colonize cereal crops, making it possible for those widely grown grains to fix nitrogen from air into the soil the way other plants can.

By reducing the need for industrial nitrogen fertilizers in these crops, the innovation can help alleviate climate change, as nitrogen fertilizers are responsible for 3% of our greenhouse gas emissions, Joyn Bio notes. Alternatives to industrial fertilizer can also prevent the kind of fertilizer crisis currently being driven by the war in Ukraine.

BIO International Convention drives more partnering

The partnership that created Joyn Bio shows how biotech collaborations can help address the world’s most pressing problems. We saw this kind of collaboration in the rush to establish a COVID-19 vaccine, as an article about Pfizer and BioNTech’s partnership explains.

Facilitating these deals is a priority of next week’s BIO International Convention, which brings together thousands of biotechnology and pharmaceutical executives. After two years of meeting online due to the pandemic, the Biotechnology Innovation Organization (BIO) will host its International Convention in San Diego in-person, from June 13–16, and those attending will be taking advantage of BIO’s One-on-One PartneringTM platform.

The powerful business development software provides a remarkably efficient tool for making connections in the biotech and life sciences industries, according to Mackensie Vernetti, Director of Partnering Operations at BIO. “Our technology simplifies the search for and identification of suitable partners, as well as the arranging of meetings with prospective biotech investors and top business development professionals,” Vernetti explains.

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