The first of its kind in the United States, the Plant Endophyte Research Center at IALR is a unique and innovative research initiative focused on combining technology and biology to improve food production. With an ever-growing library of more than 2,000 characterized endophytes, which are bacteria that occur in plants, the team of scientists at IALR are conducting important research into ways to simultaneously increase food output and enhance sustainability.
The research team has spent years exploring the significant potential endophytes have to improve food production processes and yields for a variety of crop types, including tomatoes, lettuce and switchgrass, publishing well over a dozen articles in peer-reviewed journals along the way. All of this is possible thanks to a variety of funding sources, including more than $900,000 in grants.
Endophytes are naturally occurring microorganisms that can be categorized into two general categories: growth promotion (biostimulants) and plant disease control (biocontrol agents).
The Plant Endophyte Research Center leverages private and public partnerships and funding, an elite team of scientists dedicated to the field of biostimulant research and exclusive equipment and testing services to explore all the impacts that these endophytes can offer. Thanks to a non-competitive, quasi-governmental business model and state-of-the-art infrastructure and lab space, the Plant Endophyte Research Center promotes collaboration and spurs innovation. We partner with companies like Indigo Ag, Inc., licensing endophytes that allow production businesses to improve their processes and outputs without compromising sustainability.
In total, the Plant Endophyte Research Center has over 3,000 square feet of biology lab space, 1,200 square feet of chemistry lab space and 4,200 square feet of greenhouse space (which is shared with the Virginia Tech-IALR Controlled Environment Agriculture (CEA) Innovation Center, each outfitted with state-of-the-art equipment.