Join the Newsletter

Stay up-to date with food+ag+climate tech and investment trends, and industry-leading news and analysis, globally.

Subscribe to receive the AFN & AgFunder
newsletter each week.

Image credit: iStock

BioLumic’s UV light tech for corn & soybean seeds scales commercially with Gro Alliance deal

June 6, 2023

  • Agtech startup BioLumic and US seed producer Gro Alliance are partnering to bring BioLumic’s UV light seed treatment tech to the global row-crop seed industry.
  • The partnership will deploy BioLumic’s light treatment technology at Gro Alliance’s corn and soybean seed production facilities.
  • The deal advances UV light technology to commercial scale in the seed production industry for major commodity crops.

‘Benefits that last for years’

The BioLumic platform uses light to program natural and beneficial plant responses that can increase quality, health and yield in crops.

The deal with Gro Alliance “allows BioLumic to bring the benefits of light signaling to field-seeded, broad-acre crops like corn and soybeans,” BioLumic founder and chief science officer Jason Wargent, Ph.D., tells AFN.

“Treating seeds only takes seconds to complete and as an ‘in seed treatment’ does not impact other seed treatments. The Light Treatments have a shelf life that has been validated to last for many months and we expect could have activation benefits that last for years. It also does not require any practice change for farmers to use that seed.”

The partnership with Gro Alliance — North America’s largest contract corn and soybean seed producer — also advances UV light treatment for seeds to commercial scale, suggesting large-scale adoption of this tech is close at hand.

BioLumic CEO Steve Sibulkin says the platform “is a naturally scalable technology across crops and geographies that will transform the profitability and sustainability of crop growth and food production.”

Scaling treatment for broad-acre crops

BioLumic’s proprietary tech works “exposing seedlings or seeds to a pre-programmed, short duration ‘recipe’ of UV light,” explains Wargent.

“BioLumic thinks of it as communicating with plants. A BioLumic light recipe signals to the plant what growing conditions to expect and respond to, inducing natural responses already existing within a cultivar’s genome, resulting in end-of-season plant yield, quality and health outcomes that are essential for farmers.”

The process itself focuses on photomorphogenesis, or the regulation of gene expression with light. As opposed to focusing on photosynthesis, photomorphogenesis can be executed “without requiring genetic modification or additional chemicals,” says Wargent.

The technology works both for seedlings before they are transplanted and for seeds before field planting. Wargent says it has so far been applied to 12 crops in a variety of different growing environments.

“Discovering that the same technology activated seeds as well as seedlings was a ‘eureka’ moment,” he notes. “It opened the door to broad-acre, commodity production of crops like soybean and corn benefiting from the same remarkable results of UV light treatment that we had developed for seedlings.”

The partnership with Gro Alliance — North America’s largest independent corn and soybean seed production company — will use the “in-seed” treatment process. BioLumic will deploy its platform in Gro Alliance’s corn and soybean production facilities, starting in Mt. Pulaski, Illinois.

A larger expansion across the US Midwest is slated for 2025.

Later this year, select seed companies will be given access to BioLumic Light Treatments for their cultivars; in-seed treatment will be commercially available to the broader market in 2024.

Join the Newsletter

Get the latest news & research from AFN and AgFunder in your inbox.

Join the Newsletter
Get the latest news and research from AFN & AgFunder in your inbox.

Follow us:

AgFunder Research
Join Newsletter