More than 400 species of plant – many of them used for food production – are impacted by Xanthomonas blight. Now a collaboration between FOLIUM Science, developers of Guided Biotics technology which makes the bacteria self-destruct and Jake Malone’s Group at the John Innes Centre (JIC) which is focussed on bacterial infections in plants, promises to offer a new approach to controlling pathogens such as Xanthomonas and Xylella.
Dr Simon Warner, leader and Chief Development Officer at FOLIUM Science, says “Our Guided Biotics® technology has the potential to change the way that bacterial disease in crops is treated.
“The project has made such good progress it is progressing to trials, with a view to generating the first sets of data in the first half of 2021”
Guided Biotics cause bacteria to self-destruct
FOLIUM is developing a new class of highly specific anti-bacterial technology based on a natural biomolecule called RNA, which is delivered directly to the pathogen.
RNA has a sequence, just like DNA, and if specifically coded it can trigger a natural process in the target bacteria that guides the bacteria’s own enzymes to degrade and digest the cell material. The process leaves no residues and so overcomes the problems of resistance.
The ‘Guided Biotic’ enables highly selective control of unwanted bacteria – even those resistant to antibiotics – while protecting closely related beneficial species of bacteria.
It can be introduced to young birds or livestock via a probiotic to treat the gut and help stabilise the microbiome. Alternatively, it can be used to counter infection, and stop the creation of biofilms – colonies of bacteria that are difficult to treat. The partnership with John Innes sees its first move into plant diseases.
Significant commercial potential
During the project, FOLIUM Science has purchased unencumbered worldwide rights to several unique and proprietary strains of epiphytes; organisms recognised for their ability to protect some plant species from fungal infection.
The integration of the naturally protective attributes of these strains into FOLIUM Science’s Guided Biotics® platform will accelerate the development of products that can be used to combat the devastating losses caused by bacterial blight.
The commercial potential for the Guided Biotics products has been recognised by additional funding from Innovate UK. This will enable the JIC and FOLIUM Science project team to carry out trials of these product candidates and generate data to demonstrate efficacy in specific crops.
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