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LCO talks between the plant and soil microbes

As a signaling molecule, LCO promoter essentially “talks” between the plant and the microbes in the soil.

John Hart, Associate Editor

March 30, 2023

2 Min Read
Corn field with irrigation in background.
Brad Haire

At a Glance

  • The LCO molecule “talks” between the plant and microbes in the soil.

The marvels of science are nowhere more apparent than in agriculture, particularly in the newest realm of biological crop protection products. Among the more exciting technologies are the signaling molecules Lipo-chitooligosaccharides, or LCO.

LCO is produced by rhizobial bacteria that set off legumes’ nodulation process. LCO increases mycorrhizal associations when applied as a foliar application.

Novozymes is a leading biological crop protection company going after the LCO promoter technology market in a big way. At Commodity Classic in Orlando March 8-11, Novozymes highlighted Torque IF and Ratchet, that are now registered with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

Torque IF is an on-seed product used in-furrow for corn and works below the surface. It is designed to increase stand uniformity and nutrient uptake. It works to improve lateral root development, increasing root biomass and creating longer main roots while enabling plants to better handle environmental pressures.

Ratchet, a patented, foliar-applied LCO promoter technology, can be used on many crops, including corn, soybeans, wheat, alfalfa, and cotton. By applying Ratchet, the crop is stimulated for increased photosynthesis, resulting in more sugar production, higher nutrient uptake, and improved plant health.

Related:Benefiting from soil microbes headlines Soil Health Symposium

“Because LCO promoter technology is a signaling molecule, not an organism, we don’t have to worry about compatibility, so it’s easy to mix with seed treatments or starter fertilizer or your in-season fungicides and herbicides. It has a very low use rate,” explain Jon Treloar, a technical agronomist with Novozymes.

In short, Treloar said as a signaling molecule, LCO promoter essentially “talks” between the plant and the microbes in the soil.

Treloar explains that Ratchet works to create a response within the whole plant, turning on genes that activate photosynthesis, so there is an increase in sugar production from the opening of the stomates. “There is increased photosynthesis, increased sugar, so you build yield that way.”

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About the Author(s)

John Hart

Associate Editor, Southeast Farm Press

John Hart is associate editor of Southeast Farm Press, responsible for coverage in the Carolinas and Virginia. He is based in Raleigh, N.C.

Prior to joining Southeast Farm Press, John was director of news services for the American Farm Bureau Federation in Washington, D.C. He also has experience as an energy journalist. For nine years, John was the owner, editor and publisher of The Rice World, a monthly publication serving the U.S. rice industry.  John also worked in public relations for the USA Rice Council in Houston, Texas and the Cotton Board in Memphis, Tenn. He also has experience as a farm and general assignments reporter for the Monroe, La. News-Star.

John is a native of Lake Charles, La. and is a  graduate of the LSU School of Journalism in Baton Rouge.  At LSU, he served on the staff of The Daily Reveille.

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