At AgBiome, we have used our expert knowledge of the crop microbiome and an extensive network of field-sampling partners to build a proprietary microbial strain collection that is both diverse and large—larger, in fact, than the major public strain collections. Unlike many programs, which only use metagenomics surveys, the AgBiome platform is focused on true isolated microbial strains, which gives us unparalleled insight into the detailed genomic composition of crop-associated microbes. We use this collection, which we continue to expand, as our primary resource for discovery of new biologicals and trait genes.
Existing microbial classification systems based on 16S rDNA sequences or other fingerprinting technologies are imprecise—microbes that are classified as ‘the same’ often differ by hundreds of genes. AgBiome uses proprietary algorithms based on whole genome sequence to classify organisms in our collection. This allows us to understand the true diversity of plant-associated microbes at the gene level—and genes determine function and performance. We have applied our whole-genome methods to our entire collection. We can identify duplicate isolates and reduce screening complexity while still ensuring a complete survey of microbial diversity.