Pest warfare: Triangle’s AgBiome submits combination product to EPA for review

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by Frank Vinluan, NCBiotech Writer

Pest management in farming is a constant effort to stay ahead of the changes that weeds, insects, bacteria, and fungi develop to resist the crop inputs used to control them.

AgBiome, which develops biological products for agricultural applications, aims to bring another piece to the farmer’s pest management tool kit with a combination product intended to address fungal resistance.

The company has submitted Esendo, its latest fungicide, to the Environmental Protection Agency for review. It’s the first combination product developed by the Research Triangle Park-based biotechnology company.


AgBiome develops its products from microbes. The company’s proprietary Genesis technology screens collections of microbes to find the ones that have properties particularly suited for agricultural applications, such as killing fungi. AgBiome’s flagship product, Howler, is based on a strain of the bacterium Pseudomonas chloroaphis. The fungicide employs multiple modes of action against a broad spectrum of diseases that spread through the soil and plant leaves. The EPA approved Howler in 2017, and it has since secured registration in every state. AgBiome sells Howler in the U.S. The fungicide is being commercialized overseas through partners; BASF in Europe, the Middle East and Africa, and FarmHannong in South Korea.

With Esendo, AgBiome is bringing a biological product together with one developed by traditional chemistry. Azoxystrobin became widely used in agriculture after securing EPA registration in 1997. The compound’s mode of action is disrupting the electron transport chain, which prevents fungi respiration. When the product launched nearly a quarter century ago, it represented a new mode of action that could address fungi that have developed resistance to other fungicides.

Azoxystrobin is now off patent and generic versions of the fungicide have reached the market. The active ingredient in the fungicide is also finding use as part of combination products, such as Esendo. By combining azoxystrobin with Howler, AgBiome intends to bring multiple modes of action that together slow or prevent the ability of fungi to develop resistance. AgBiome developed Esendo for use as part of an integrated disease and resistance management program for application on a wide range of crops.

“Growers need new tools to control problematic diseases while ensuring effective resistance management,” Jim Spadafora, project lead at AgBiome, said in a prepared statement. “Esendo Fungicide provides growers access to the combined power of the biological benefits of Howler and a proven synthetic chemistry.”

If Esendo secures EPA registration, it would become AgBiome’s third product in the last four years. The second AgBiome fungicide to emerge from the Genesis platform was Theia, which was submitted for EPA review last summer.

(C) N.C. Biotech Center

Original Source: WRAL TechWire