7:30 am Registration & Morning Coffee

8:20 am Chairperson’s Opening Remarks

Reviewing the State of Play of Plant-Soil Microbiome Applications

Session Purpose:


The agbiological industry is at a critical point of establishing its science and market share in the crop production setting. This theme will review the current thinking towards approaches in understanding the role of the plant-soil microbiome in plant growth and how this knowledge is being applied to develop game-changing microbial-based stimulants and pesticides for sustainable crop agriculture.

8:30 am Microbiome Leaders Panel Discussion


  •  What is the status of this field, firstly from a scientific perspective and secondly, from a product development perspective?
  • Plotting the road to success: what is our end goal, what are the applications of the industry’s R&D efforts and what hurdles must be overcome to get there?
  • What are the most promising hot pockets of innovation opportunity in product development?
  • What are the current strategies to take microbial products to market?
  •  Given the status of the plant-soil microbiome R&D, where do you see the industry developing in five years?

9:20 am A New Era in Microbiome Research: The Prospector High-throughput Microbial Cultivation & Screening Platform

9:50 am Microbiome Data as the Bridge Between Sustainable Agriculture and Functional Food

10:00 am Working Smarter: Automation of Field Trial Data Collection via Aerial Imagery


  • High resolution aerial imaging is an objective, non-destructive, and highly scalable approach to collecting field trial data, and can be incorporated into field trial programs using validated equipment and software.
  • Proof-of-concept studies conducted over the past three seasons have validated this approach for key crop metrics and product response, allowing researchers to make both qualitative and quantitative assessments on research plots.
  • Systematic aerial imaging of research plots across the entire season allows temporal analysis of crop response to product applications and environmental factors, revealing insights not feasible through other manual methods.

10:30 am Morning Refreshments & Speed Networking



Relationship Status: It’s Complicated – Investigating Fundamental PlantSoil Microbial Ecologies

Developing Stable, Consistently Performing Products that Deliver Commercially Meaningful Results

11.30 am Digging in the "Dirt” to Improve Soil Sustainability

  • Exploring soil complexity - both organic and inorganic
  • Understanding soil biology in terms of both prokaryotic and eukaryotic presence and functionality
  • Soil restoration—faster than you might expect

Ann Hirsch, Professor & Principal Investigator, UCLA

11.30 am Discussing Manufacturing & Formulation Across a Platform

  • Aligning development, manufacturing, formulation and registration is an art
  • It’s worth to invest in manufacturing of your first product and to apply learnings and processes to a product platform

Andy Renz, Vice President, Business Development, Vestaron Corporation

12.00 pm Know Your Microbe: Using Appropriate Plant Nutrition to Control a Devastating Plant Disease

  • Current citrus culture methods encourage citrus greening disease
  • Learn how an uncultured pathogen gets it energy by studying a close relative
  • Appropriate plant nutrition practice can stifle the pathogen in phloem

Eric Triplett, Professor & Chair, University of Florida, IFAS

12.00 pm Developing Stable Microbial Consortia Compatible with Dry Fertilizer

  • Novel selection process to determine strain stability
  • Co-fermentation to increase microbe stability
  • Resulting microbial consortia stability over time

Marthah De Lorme, Fermentation Scientist, Agrinos

12.30 pm Understanding How Plants ‘Farm’ Soil Microbes and Extract Nutrients from them in the Rhizophagy Cycle

  • Plants actively cultivate microbes in roots
  • Plants extract nutrients from microbes through use of reactive oxygen
  • Plant biostimulants may stimulate the rhizophagy cycle

James White, Professor of Plant Biology, Rutgers University

Optimizing Greenhouse & Field Trials to Maximize Data Insights

12.30 pm Applied Use of Biological Products: Translating Lab Biology to Real World Performance

  • Applicability of lab data to support field-relevant use
  • Using big data for practical purposes, including digital and statistical analysis
  • Increasing market acceptance and understanding of biological products

Sarah Hovinga, Principal Scientist, Bayer Crop Science

1:00 pm Lunch & Networking

2:00 pm Elucidating Stress-Induced Root Exudation for Recruitment of Beneficial Microbes and Enhancing Stress Resilience

  • Elucidated phenolic secondary metabolites secreted by tomato under micronutrient (iron) limitation
  • These stress-induced exudates shape the assembly of the rhizosphere microbial community
  • Links between micronutrient stress and tomato resilience against bacterial wilt infection

Oliver Baars, Assistant Professor, NCSU / Center for Integrated Fungal Research

2:00 pm From Microbiome Analysis to Commercial Product

  • BioConsortia’s patented “Advanced Microbial Selection” (AMS) R&D platform uses an iterative process of directed selection and evolution of the plant microbiome, aided by microbiome analysis and genomics, to identify individual strains and small teams of microbes that improve plant traits
  • With additional techniques such as fermentation and formulation optimization, tagging and root colonization robustness, the target is to develop biological biopesticides and biostimulant products with superior efficacy and higher consistency
  • Examples of successful fungicide, nematicide and yield enhancing biostimulant products will be used to demonstrate the power of this revolutionary platform

Marcus Meadows-Smith, CEO, BioConsortia

2:30 pm Microbial Community Maintenance of Plant Growth – Bridging the Gap Between Ecology, Mechanism and Application

  • Plants associate with complex microbial communities
  • In order to understand plant-microbe interactions we must understand microbeenvironment and microbe-microbe interactions
  • Synthetic communities in controlled microcosms allow the detection of plantmicrobe interactions that depend on specific environmental ques

Omri Finkel, Post-Doctoral Research Associate, Dangl Lab, University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill

2:30 pm Challenges in Developing a Global Harmonized Field Trials Protocols for Biologicals

  • Understanding why application rates vary by crop
  • Exploring how application methods vary by crop and geography
  • Demonstrating how application timing varies by crop, by geography and by weather

Mylavarapu Venkatramesh, Chief Technology Officer, Agrinos

Leveraging the Right Tools in Your Toolbox to Advance Microbial Target Validation

3:00 pm Ennoble: A Biofumigant with Soil-Microbiome Modulation Potential

  • Showcasing Muscodor albus SA13 as a biofumigant ‘Ennoble’
  • Outlining how soil Microbiome sequencing was used to understand soil health
  • Sharing Field study data and challenges

Amit Vasavada, Senior Vice President, R&D & CTO, Marrone Bio Innovations


Optimizing Greenhouse & Field Trials to Maximize Data Insights

3:00 pm Sharing Learnings from Fifteen years of Pioneering Microbial Product Trials

  • Targeted needs. Proof of concept vs marketing
  • Microbiological/Plant specificity
  • Realistic expectations

Doug Kremer, CEO, TerraMax, Inc

3:30 pm Redesigning Biological Nitrogen Fixation in Cereal Crops

  • Biological nitrogen fixation (BNF) by plant-associated microbes can provide a sustainable and efficient source of nitrogen for crop plants; however high levels of nitrogen fertilizer in agricultural soils has resulted in the repression of BNF
  • We have remodelled the regulatory nodes that repress nitrogen fixation to restore BNF in root-associated diazotrophs
  • Fine-tuning the genetic regulation of BNF has resulted in strains able to fix nitrogen and release scalable amounts of nitrogen to cereal crops under fertilized conditions

Kent Wood, Director of Plant Biology, Pivot Bio

3:30 pm Validating New Technologies Through R&D and Farm-Scale Field Research

  • Understand the mode of action for Source™, a novel technology that provides inseason nitrogen and phosphorus by activating the soil microbiome
  • Learn how trials were designed to validate performance and identify the best environments for improved product performance
  • Gain insights on how to design trials that support R&D initiatives and product performance insights

Bruce Luzzi, Director of Field Development, Sound Agriculture

4:00 pm Afternoon Refreshments and Networking

Speed Learning

Session Purpose:


Uncover the story behind leaps and setbacks from the movers and shakers of plant-soil microbiome R&D. Each table will be hosted by an Agriculture/Agbiological leader who will share a challenge, question or case study to discuss.

1. Radically Rethinking Product Development Strategies for at Scale Distribution

2. Seeing the Bigger Picture Beyond Crop Outcomes: Improving Environmental Health through Agbiologicals & Regenerative Farming

3. Building Academic/Industry Partnerships & Setting Expectations to Ensure Achievement of R&D Goals

5:30 pm Evening Drinks Reception & Scientific Poster Session Hosted by The Microbiome Movement

6:30 pm Close of Conference Day One