With spring planting season just around the corner, Indigo is making its first ever US biological nematicide product available to farmers for field trials, following rigorous lab and field testing. The innovative new seed treatment is designed to help crops combat the damaging effects caused by plant parasitic nematodes, one of the leading causes of crop yield loss in the U.S., particularly among soybeans. The proprietary, US EPA-approved biotrinsic® product contains the active ingredient Streptomyces sp. strain SYM00257, a living microbe that works in harmony with crops as they grow to actively manage damaging nematode populations for a variety of crops across a wide territory in the U.S.
Side by side comparison from a 2019 trial shows soybeans treated with Indigo's bionematicide on the left (longer shoots), and untreated soybeans on the right
Nematodes: The Silent Yield Robber
Estimated to cause well over $1 billion in crop loss each year in U.S. corn and soy, parasitic nematodes are known as the "silent yield robber" and is listed as the most dangerous crop pathogen in the U.S.1 for its ability to cause significant root damage while the plant appears healthy above ground. Research shows that the soybean cyst nematode (SCN) subspecies can cause as much as a 30% yield loss in soybeans without any above ground signs, with losses being even greater in sandy soils2. The species impacts a variety of commodity crops across a wide swath of U.S. geography, with verified detections throughout the Midwest, Midcentral, and Eastern coastal states. Though not as widely distributed as SCN, root-knot nematodes (RKN) are a growing concern in U.S. corn crops, especially with changes in soil management and crop rotation. With a wide host range, crop rotation is less impactful at suppressing the species.
Parasitic nematodes have adapted to overcome resistance genes in soybean varieties, such as PI 88788, creating an urgent need for new technologies to manage the problem. Indigo’s new bionematicide product can be used as a resistance management tool on these varieties or can be a seed treatment solution for growers who do not utilize nematode resistant seed varieties.
A Bionematicide Derived from Beneficial Endophytes
Indigo's new bionematicide, which is derived from a beneficial microbe known as an endophyte, works from the inside out to help plants defend themselves against nematodes. The active ingredient Streptomyces sp. strain SYM00257 entered Indigo's growing collection of beneficial microbes in 2014 and has since undergone rigorous testing to develop it into a commercial seed treatment. It was extensively evaluated in the lab via in vitro and in planta assays before being trialed in fields for soy and cotton nematode stress in 2019. In these targeted trials, Indigo’s bionematicide product proved to be a top performer for nematode management and yield improvement. Indigo submitted the product to the US EPA in October 2020 and received the registration grant in 2022; during that time, the product was trialed in a larger small-plot nematode program across soy and corn. In these trials Indigo’s new bionematicide provided significant yield improvement to both crops without any observed phytotoxicity or negative plant health impacts.
The seed treatment targets the major nematode subspecies impacting multiple U.S. crops across a broad geography: soybean cyst nematodes (SCN), root-knot nematodes (RKN), and reniform nematodes. While it was primarily developed for corn and soybean crops, the product is being trialed on cereal grains, cotton, oil seeds, and other legumes.
Indigo’s Accelerated Development of Biologicals
Indigo’s accelerated three-year development process for this bionematicide product demonstrates the scientific insights, knowledge, and innovative capabilities of Indigo scientists, and their speed to market creating a comprehensive portfolio of biological products to address farmers' most pressing challenges.
It’s the latest innovation in the company’s biotrinsic® seed treatments, which reintroduces beneficial microbes naturally present in the rhizosphere to enhance plants’ natural ability to protect themselves against common stresses. As part of its unique focused sourcing approach, Indigo researchers and scientific partners tap into a growing collection of over 36,000 microbial strains. This library—one of the largest and most diverse collections of microbial endophytes in the world—gives Indigo researchers and scientific partners the genomic insights to identify and isolate plant microbes and develop them into new seed treatments with speed and scale to swiftly address urgent environmental stressors affecting agriculture.
The biotrinsic® portfolio, which began with a series of seed treatments to address environmental stressors, launched a biofungicide to address disease stressors in Fall 2022. Now with its first bionematicide, Indigo is expanding its biotrinsic® portfolio to also provide farmers effective crop protection solutions from pests.
Sign Up for A Bionematicide Field Trial
The product will enter Indigo’s on-farm beta-field trialing program this spring season, ahead of an anticipated market launch in Q4 2023. We encourage agribusinesses and farmers interested in participating in the field trial to learn more and sign up here.
1 Crop Protection Network https://cropprotectionnetwork.org/publications/soybean-disease-loss-estimates-from-the-united-states-and-ontario-canada-2021
2 Soybean cyst nematode management guide. University of Minnesota, reviewed 2021. https://extension.umn.edu/soybean-pest-management/soybean-cyst-nematode-management-guide#where-is-scn-found%3F-1496260