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Manipulation of Enabling Microbial Systems for Improved Bioenergy Crops

Award Information
Agency: Department of Energy
Branch: N/A
Contract: DE-SC0022372
Agency Tracking Number: 0000271154
Amount: $1,649,964.00
Phase: Phase II
Program: STTR
Solicitation Topic Code: C53-30c
Solicitation Number: DE-FOA-0002859
Solicitation Year: 2023
Award Year: 2023
Award Start Date (Proposal Award Date): 2023-04-03
Award End Date (Contract End Date): 2025-04-02
Small Business Information
2531 West 237th Street STE 127
Torrance, CA 90505-5245
United States
DUNS: 114060861
HUBZone Owned: No
Woman Owned: Yes
Socially and Economically Disadvantaged: Yes
Principal Investigator
 Eileen Fung
 (310) 530-2011
Business Contact
 Kisholoy Goswami
Phone: (310) 530-2011
Research Institution
 North Carolina State University
 Saad Khan
2601 Wolf Village Wau
Raleigh, NC 27695-7514
United States

 Nonprofit College or University

C53-30c-271154The Department of Energy is seeking the development of microbial amendments for crop production, specifically for sustainable bioenergy crops. Particularly desirable are plant growth promoting microbe systems that would improve bioenergy crop growth and increase yield when grown on marginal lands that are unsuitable for food agriculture. In the proposed project, the company will continue to develop a suite of plant growth promoting microbes encapsulated in naturally derived, cellulose-based carriers, geared toward increased switchgrass production in marginal lands. In Phase I, the project team has: (1) developed protocols to efficiently manipulate plant growth promoting microbes, including Bacillus subtilis, Microbacterium testaceum, Pseudomonas simiae WCS417, by encapsulation in cellulose-based carriers, (2) demonstrated controlled release of the biologically active encapsulated microbes, and (3) shown improved switchgrass growth trends when treated with the manipulated microbes in pot studies and fabricated ecosystems, both conducted in plant growth chambers with 16 hours photoperiod light/dark cycles. Phase II efforts will focus on characterizing the response of switchgrass growth to the manipulated microbes at two important plant life stages: germination and seedling establishment. In addition, a comprehensive greenhouse study will be conducted to evaluate the growth of switchgrass in ambient and drought conditions. A library of the plant growth promoting microbes will be assessed for their viability and their release profile. Refinement of the cellulose- based carriers will be carried out to prepare for commercial readiness. The proposed plant growth promoting microbe system would find an immediate application in the agricultural microbes’ industry where other microbial systems are currently utilized and are gaining ground over agrochemicals as soil amendments and crop protection. The encapsulated microbes would offer improved consistency, controlled and prolonged release, and prevent microbial inactivation in adverse conditions. The proposed microbial system could be tailored for other crops and also find applications in the direct-feed microbial and probiotic industries.

* Information listed above is at the time of submission. *

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