Thursday, October 30, 2014
YOLO COUNTY NEWS
99 CENTS

Agri-biotech company makes Davis its home

By
From page A9 | April 06, 2014 |

Marcus Meadows-SmithW

Marcus Meadows-Smith is the CEO of Davis' newest biotech company, BioConsortia. Courtesy photo

A newly formed agri-bioscience company will soon bring about 10 jobs to Davis to explore the use of microbes to improve fertilizer efficiency and yield in crops in an effort to potentially replace chemicals to achieve these results.

The company, BioConsortia, will be headed by newly appointed CEO Marcus Meadows-Smith, who ran Davis-based AgraQuest from 2008 to 2012. That company created about 50 jobs in the Davis area before it was bought by Bayer CropScience for just shy of half a billion dollars.

BioConsortia choosing to locate in Davis continues a trend highlighting the importance of being near a major agricultural research institution,” said Rob White, chief innovation officer for the city of Davis. “Their market potential could result in several hundred employees in a very short period of time (years). The city wants to do whatever we can to help with their success.”

BioConsortia works with groups of nongenetically modified and EPA-approved microbes applied as seed treatments and to the soil, said Meadows-Smith, adding to the microbial community already in the soil to “create a beneficial microbiome that makes the plant more efficient.”

Using microbes for agricultural purposes is not a new idea.

The bacteria Bacillus thuringiensis was discovered to be a microbial insecticide as early as 1901 and has been used since in agriculture, forestry and medicine, according to a recent review in Current Opinion in Biotechnology.

To date, more than 100 bioinsecticides of the species Bacillus thuringiensis alone have been developed and other species of the genus Bacillus are a common ingredient in many products currently on the market. Bacillus is also used for its biofungicidal and biofertilizing properties.

BioConsortia’s focus is on improving fertilizer efficiency and increasing yield. The global market value of the fertilizer industry is likely to rise to more than $185 billion by 2019.

While BioConsortia is not giving away any proprietary information as to what kinds of microbes are in its products, Meadows-Smith said the company is working with a “wide array of microbes” that are regulated by the EPA and work equally well with crops that are genetically modified or conventional.

In development are products that can complement, replace or reduce chemical use, he added, by helping “plants release and better utilize the fertilizers already available in the organic and mineral content of the soil, thereby reducing the need for additional synthetic fertilizers.”

More specifically, microbes can solubilize previously insoluble forms of fertilizer naturally locked into the soil, as well as induce the growth of roots to improve nutrient uptake, he said.

UC Davis plant pathologist Johan Leveau, who is not affiliated with BioConsortia, sees potential for such products.

Given that certain chemicals will be discontinued, and in the absence of many alternatives, I think there is going to be quite a bit of interest in the application of these biological control products, by themselves or in combination with chemicals the use of which continues to be allowed for plant protection,” Leveau said in an email.

BioConsortia is the parent of BioDiscovery, based in New Zealand, where successful field trials were seen last year on maize crops.

The company plans to expand into the microbial fertilizer market initially for use on large row crops like corn and soybean and eventually into tomatoes and brassicas among others.

The company is running trials in temporary facilities and has raised about $15 million for permanent laboratory space in Davis, which should be established by the end of June, Meadows-Smith said.

We’re starting with some of the hiring now,” he said.

Local jobs would include a small team of business developers as well as junior and senior researchers to run research experiments. Contract trials would be held at various locations throughout the United States.

Reach Jason McAlister at jmcalister@davisenterprise.net or 530-747-8051.

Comments

comments

Jason McAlister

.

News

Defense rests after Gardner’s courtroom complaints

By Lauren Keene | From Page: A1 | Gallery

 
Central Park’s oak tree deck in limbo

By Dave Ryan | From Page: A1 | Gallery

 
Clinton at UCD to get out the vote, stump for locals

By Tanya Perez | From Page: A1 | Gallery

Stockton faces key ruling on bankruptcy

By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

 
Pedestrian injured in hit-and-run collision

By Lauren Keene | From Page: A2

 
Celebrate Day of the Dead on Sunday

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

Meet Archer, Poppenga and Sunder

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

 
UCD prof will speak in Woodland

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

Eichorn’s shredding event benefits STEAC

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

 
All voices welcome at sing-along

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

Community forum devoted to returning military personnel

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

 
Davis Media Access: Treasures from the vault get new life

By Autumn Labbe-Renault | From Page: A3

Kids ready to trick-or-treat for UNICEF

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

 
Yolo Food Bank invites locals to run with the flock

By Debbie Davis | From Page: A4

 
‘The Cooler Bandits’ documentary will be screened in Davis

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A4

Low-water landscape workshop planned

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A4

 
Sending ‘Hugs from Home’

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4 | Gallery

Yolo RCD welcomes new executive director

By Elizabeth Case | From Page: A5

 
Volunteers sought to advocate for kids

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A5

Sudwerk Ultimator arrives with a vengeance

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A5

 
.

Forum

She has all the leverage

By Creators Syndicate | From Page: B5

 
Duo are the best-informed

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A8

Humble and hard-working

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A8

 
Yes on 47 for our safety

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A8

 
Something’s missing

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A8

This is a terrific trio

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A8

 
Elect Poppenga to school board

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A8

.

Sports

Something’s got to give as Aggies host UNC

By Bruce Gallaudet | From Page: B1 | Gallery

 
Davis vs. Goliath: Devils travel to take on Grant

By Thomas Oide | From Page: B1

DHS escapes with a Senior Night victory

By Thomas Oide | From Page: B1 | Gallery

 
Aggies hope to turn Gauchos into net zombies

By Bruce Gallaudet | From Page: B1

MVP Bumgarner leads Giants to World Series win

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1 | Gallery

 
Aggie loss allows Gauchos to tie them for first

By Enterprise staff | From Page: B2

JV/frosh roundup: Rio falls to DHS boys, who then take fifth at tourney

By Enterprise staff | From Page: B3 | Gallery

 
Warriors whip Kings in their season opener

By The Associated Press | From Page: B3

Youth roundup: Diamonds have a ball at Disco-Tech

By Enterprise staff | From Page: B3 | Gallery

 
Sports briefs: Double dip for Devil tennis team

By Enterprise staff | From Page: B8

.

Features

What’s happening

By Anne Ternus-Bellamy | From Page: A10

 
College Corner: Going the honors route

By Jennifer Borenstein | From Page: A10

Chávez kids are movin’

By Anne Ternus-Bellamy | From Page: A10 | Gallery

 
.

Arts

Wineaux: Calming and curbing the crouching curmudgeon

By Susan Leonardi | From Page: A11

 
Hear Amplified DNA on Saturday at winery

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A11

Thursday Live! plans jazz and blues

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A11

 
DMTC plans ‘My Fair Lady’

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A11 | Gallery

International Film Series continues with ‘Australia’

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A11

 
DHS Madrigals host singing workshop

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A11

All are welcome at Fun Time Follies

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A11

 
.

Business

.

Obituaries

Joseph Francis Gray

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A4

 
.

Comics

Comics: Thursday, October 30, 2014

By Creator | From Page: A9