The Maria Curie-Skłodowska University in Lublin (Poland), INTERMAG company from Olkusz (Poland) and the Institute of Soil Science and Plant Cultivation – National Research Institute in Puławy (Poland) have signed an agreement granting a license for 4 patents. This is the first such large commercialization at the University.
On May 28th, at the Ecotech-Complex Center in Lublin (Poland) a press conference was held, during which the Maria Curie-Skłodowska University in Lublin (UMCS), INTERMAG company from Olkusz (Poland) and the Institute of Soil Science and Plant Cultivation – National Research Institute in Puławy (IUNG) signed an agreement granting an license for 4 patents. The developed inventions, protected by patents, are related to a method of obtaining and purifying of substances produced by bacteria, called “Nod factors”, which are the active ingredient of formulation stimulating the growth of crops.
The conference was attended by: UMCS Rector – prof. dr hab. Radosław Dobrowolski, CEO of INTERMAG – Hubert Kardasz, Director of IUNG – prof. Wiesław Oleszek, UMCS V-ce Rector for Development and Cooperation with Economy – prof. Zbigniew Pastuszak, Director of the Center for Knowledge and Technology Transfer at UMCS – Anna Grzegorczyk, Director of Research and Development Department of Intermag – dr Krzysztof Ambroziak, Director of the Institute of Biological Sciences – prof. Anna Jarosz-Wilkołazka and prof. Jerzy Wielbo – researcher at the Institute of Biological Sciences.
“Nod factors” are signalling substances produced by symbiotic nitrogen-fixing bacteria. These substances play a key role in establishing symbiosis between bacteria and legume crops such as pea, vetch, fava bean, clover and cause the formation of nodules – special organs on the roots. The bacteria living in the nodules fix atmospheric nitrogen and transfer it to plants in a form of available compounds, thus bringing the additional source of nitrogen.
In the natural environment the amount of “Nod factors” reaching to the plants may be not sufficient to induce effective plant nodulation, because these compounds diffuse and decompose in the soil. Therefore, providing an additional amount of “Nod factors” during sowing or at early stages of plant growth helps to release the full symbiotic potential of legumes and enables them to establish symbiotic relationship with larger group of nitrogen-fixing bacteria. The application of the formulation can be very flexibly adapted to the other agrotechnical treatments: it can be used together with fungicides during seed treatment or added to foliar fertilizers. Regardless of the method of application it stimulates the formation of root meristems (nodule and lateral root meristems) and aboveground meristems (lateral shoot meristems, flower meristems) positively affecting the supply of plants with nutrients (mainly nitrogen), water and consequently yield. In crops grown in soils rich in rhizobia, the formulation cooperates with the native symbiotic bacteria. However, in case of low number of symbiotic bacteria in soil (degraded soils, cultivation of recently introduced plants e.g. soybean) the formulation can be applied together with bio-fertilizers containing live rhizobia in order to support their nodulation activity.
Products containing „Nod factors” can be used in the cultivation of various legumes, where the most important effect of their activity, i.e. increasing number of nodules and symbiotic rhizobia cells that fix atmospheric nitrogen for the needs of plants is visible.
Also, it’s worth to mention about the possible beneficial effect of the formulation on not legume crops: direct effect (after product application – induction of meristematic activity leading to the better development of the root system) as well as indirect effect (possibility of using nitrogen, introduced to the soil, by plants grown after legumes).
The cooperation between IUNG and UMCS started in 2011 with the implementation of a joint research project “Searching for the opportunities to increase effectiveness of symbiotic nitrogen fixation by pea as a result of the use of “Nod factors” (PEA-NOD)”, carried out in IUNG (Puławy, Poland) and financed by Ministry of Science and Higher Education. It also resulted in obtaining and implementing a patent for the production of “Preparation for fertilizing legumes”. In the following years, many other join ventures were implemented including project “Development of an ecological preparation for stimulating growth and yielding of crops and medicinal plants (LIDER/11/0070/L-8/16/NCBR/2017)” financed by the National Center for Research and Development. Employees of both institutions are also co-authors of research papers and other scientific studies about the use of “Nod factors” to improve the biological reduction of atmospheric nitrogen. This activity is an example of a very good and effective cooperation between the university and the research and development unit.
The commercialization of preparations based on "Nod factors" has been undertaken by the Polish company INTERMAG specializing in the development and production of modern products for agriculture and horticulture as well animal health products. With sales operations in over 45 countries in Europe, North and South America, Africa and Asia, INTERMAG is recognized internationally as a supplier of innovative solutions increasing the efficiency of agricultural production. The solutions offered by INTERMAG support agricultural practices that are environmentally friendly and enable the production of healthy food with excellent quality parameters. Since 2015, the company has been developing formulations based on beneficial microorganisms and has successfully launched the first products on the market. Recently in Olkusz INTERMAG has opened the new production facility intended for manufacturing products based on beneficial microbes. Modern production workshops are equipped with e.g., an installation for the multiplication of microorganisms, a set of devices for the production of bioproducts (in dry and liquid form), the indispensable technical infrastructure and a laboratory for quality control of the manufactured products. The new production facility, which can be considered one of the most modern in Europe, will contribute to strengthening the position of INTERMAG as a supplier of bioproducts for agriculture.
The introduction of "Nod factors" into agricultural practice is an interesting challenge for INTERMAG. Changes in the approach to food production, the Nitrates Directive, the concept of the "Green Deal" and other activities supporting the development of biodiversity in crops cause more and more frequent introduction of legumes to crop rotation by farmers. Thanks to the new innovative solution, Polish farmers will be able to significantly increase the efficiency of legume crop production and reduce the intensity of nitrogen fertilization. Nod factors will be a perfect complement to the INTERMAG product offer. The company, in cooperation with UMCS, will continue developing products based on “Nod factors”. There are plans of creating products intended for other species of legumes and other field crops. INTERMAG is also planning to introduce “Nod factors” to its offer on international markets.
The grant of a license applies to patents:
- „ New strain of Rhizobium leguminosarum bv. Viciae GR09 used in production of a biofertilizer for papilionaceous plants and method for producing the biofertilizer”. Authors: Jerzy Wielbo, Dominika Maj, Anna Skorupska, Monika Marek-Kozaczuk (UMCS);
- „New strain of Rhizobium leguminosarum bv. trifolii KO17 bacteria and a bio-fertilizer based on metabolites of this strain stimulating germination and growth of legumes and process for preparation of the bio-fertilizer stimulating the germination and growth of legumes” PL. 212250. Authors: Jerzy Wielbo, Dominika Maj, Anna Skorupska, Monika Marek-Kozaczuk (UMCS);
- „The method of obtaining Nod from the strain of bacteira Rhizobium leguminosarum bv. viciae GR09 used as biofertilizer stimulating the growth of legumes” covered by the patent application P4.33315 [WIPO ST 10/C PL]. Autors: Anna Sroka-Bartnicka, Iwona Komaniecka, Dominika Kidaj, Jerzy Wielbo, Katarzyna Suśniak (UMCS);
- „Preparation for the fertilization of bean family plants”, covered by patent protection by the Patent Office of the Republic of Poland under the number PL. 230565. Authors: Jerzy Wielbo (UMCS), Dominika Kidaj (UMCS), Janusz Podleśny (IUNG-PIB), Anna Podleśna (IUNG-PIB).