Pivot Bio, US

Richard Broglie is Chief Technology Officer at Pivot Bio, an innovative agriculture technology company that identifies and fine-tunes microbes with the ability to fix atmospheric nitrogen for use by cereal crops. Prior to joining Pivot Bio, he held the position of Research Director for microbiome discovery in the Agriculture Division of DowDuPont. In his more than 30-year career at DuPont, Rich has led various discovery programs that resulted in soybean and canola crops with healthier and more stable seed oil compositions, and traits for disease and pest resistance in soybean, corn, wheat, rice, and sugarcane. He also served as Vice President of Research and member of the Board of Directors of InterMountain Canola, a joint venture between DuPont and DNA Plant Technology. The author of more than 30 scientific publications and an inventor on several important patents, Rich received his graduate training in microbiology at Rutgers University and his postdoctoral training in plant molecular biology at The Rockefeller University, where he also served as Assistant Professor in the Laboratory of Plant Molecular Biology.

Talk: Reimagining crop nutrition
Outline: While synthetic fertilizers have accelerated crops yields worldwide, most of the synthetic nitrogen that farmers apply is never absorbed by the crops they produce; instead, the nitrogen evaporates into the atmosphere and is washed into nearby waterway that become polluted or becomes the greenhouse gas nitrous oxide, which is 300 times more potent than CO2.
Biological nitrogen fixation (BNF) by plant-associated bacteria has the potential to provide a sustainable and efficient source of nitrogen to crop roots. However, the abundance of fertilizer and residual nitrogen in agricultural soils has repressed BNF in natural rhizosphere microbes. To address this problem, we have restored BNF in the rhizosphere of cereal crops by creating a platform to identify, characterize and fine-tune plant-associated microbes. Fine-tuning the genetic regulation of BNF resulted in strains able to fix nitrogen in fertilized conditions and release scaled amounts of nitrogen to cereal crop roots. As measured by 15N abundance studies in field conditions, these microbes supply up to 25 kg N/ha directly to corn plants. These first-generation nitrogen-producing microbes are the first commercially-viable example of BNF as a nitrogen management solution.

Session 5: Transforming Phytobiome Discoveries into Products
Thursday 6 December