The Institute for Advanced Learning and Research (IALR) in Danville, Virginia has recently established a collaboration with Dr. Brent Nielsen, Professor of Microbiology and Molecular Biology, at Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah. The collaboration is centered on beneficial bacteria that are capable of increasing plant growth in agricultural soils containing high levels of salt. The bacteria isolated by Dr. Nielsen, called halophiles, will be tested on IALRs SMART table imaging system along with bacteria from IALR’s in-house endophyte library. 

“We are excited to be working with Dr. Nielsen on salt tolerant beneficial bacteria as this is an area of high interest with agricultural producers in many parts of the world” said Dr. Scott Lowman, Chief Scientist at IALR. Executive Director Mark Gignac noted that IALR plans to add an additional 1000 bacteria to our endophyte library, also known as our beneficial bacteria toolbox, during the 2018 growing season. 

Photo: Dr. Chuansheng Mei is shown with a dish of bacterial endophytes that solubilize insoluble phosphates. 

At the Blue Ridge Chapter of the Public Relations Society of America’s annual Summit Awards, the Institute for Advanced Learning and Research was recognized for its efforts in communications.  

Among more than 50 entries in each category, IALR rose above the nominees to receive the Gold Award for Multimedia Program (longer than two minutes) and the Gold Award for Newsletter (external audiences).  IALR received the Silver Award in Public Relations Campaign (non-profit organizations) and for Annual Report.  This was the second year in a row that the Institute received an award for its Annual Report, and the third year in a row for receiving an award for its Newsletter.


Danville, VA: The Institute for Advanced Learning and Research (IALR) recently licensed a collection of agriculturally important, beneficial bacteria (called endophytes) to Indigo Ag, Inc. (Boston, Massachusetts). The bacteria, isolated and characterized by IALR scientists, show promise for commercialization as natural plant bio-stimulants. IALR scientists focus on developing and implementing next-generation agricultural products and technologies to improve farming diversification and productivity.

“Licensing these beneficial bacteria to a company as respected and innovative as Indigo is very positive news for IALR and the endophyte library program our scientists are developing, which now contains more than 1200 characterized strains,” said Executive Director, Mark Gignac.

Indigo is a company dedicated to harnessing nature to help farmers sustainably feed the planet. In 2017, the company was named a Technology Pioneer by the World Economic Forum. The Forum highlights early-stage companies involved in the design, development, and deployment of new technologies and innovations that are poised to have a significant impact on business and society.

“At Indigo, we are developing solutions based on plant endophytes, and exploring the ways in which these can influence agricultural practices,” said Director of Collaborations, Virginia Ursin, PhD. “Partnering with leading research institutions such as IALR is key to delivering on our commitments to farmer profitability and environmental sustainability.”

What are Endophytes? Beneficial bacterial endophytes live inside plants and represent a largely unexplored resource for enhancing sustainable agriculture. They are an untapped reservoir of novel natural products, optimized for biological relevance. In the agricultural sector, IALR scientists are exploring growth enhancement and disease resistance of crops important to Southern Virginia. In the biotechnology sector, IALR scientists are searching for unique natural products, such as antibiotics and antivirals, with wide-ranging applications.

To learn more about the Institute for Advanced Learning and Research’s endophyte program, visit

About Indigo

Indigo is a company dedicated to harnessing nature to help farmers sustainably feed the planet. With a vision of creating a world where farming is an economically desirable and accessible profession, Indigo works alongside its growers to apply natural approaches, conserve resources for future generations, and grow healthy food for all. Utilizing beneficial plant microbes to improve crop health and productivity, Indigo’s portfolio is focused on cotton, wheat, corn, soybeans, and rice. The company, founded by Flagship Pioneering, is headquartered in Boston, MA, with additional offices in Memphis, TN, Research Triangle Park, NC, Sydney, Australia, Buenos Aires, Argentina, and São Paulo, Brazil.

For more information on IALR, please contact Mark Gignac  This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

 For more information on Indigo, please contact Lauren Ashbrook  This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..




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