Lincoln Agritech is leading a five year Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) funded research programme, ‘Bacterial-fungal hybrid endophytes for nitrogen-fixation and stress tolerance in pine and ryegrass’. We signed an agreement with Ngāti Whare for collection and intellectual property (IP) sharing and have also established a BioDiscovery Unit at their nursery at Minginui.
Last month, over 100 people attended the opening of the Unit. Local kaumātua, Mr Tuahai Iraia, blessed and officially opened the lab and the tauira (students) at Te Kura Toitu o Te Whaiti-nui-a-Toi supported their kaumātua. Minginui is already the site of a collaboration between SCION, the CRI for forestry, and Ngāti Whare Holdings using cutting edge technology to grow native podocarps such as tōtara, rimu and kahikatea. Dr Richard Weld, Lincoln Agritech’s Biotechnology Team Manager, leads the MBIE research programme and says “We are seeking revolutionary ways of using naturally-occurring bacteria and fungi to produce nitrogen fixing trees and grasses, and to produce stress tolerant plants”. If successful Lincoln Agritech will work to license these fungal endophyte hybrids to commercial companies. Peter Barrowclough, CEO, in his speech outlined the benefits of the lab, not only in helping to produce healthier, stronger seedlings but in other areas, including education saying “It (the lab) may provide not only a resource for skills development for those that work here, but it may become a teaching resource for whānau enrolled at the kura/school”.