Dr. Sharon Doty at the University of Washington is one of the world’s leading experts on endophytes — the tiny microbes that live inside of plant tissues and play a vital role in plant health and nutrient acquisition.

Dr. Doty was intrigued when she came across poplar and willow trees growing along the banks of glacial melt rivers in the Pacific Northwest. The resilient trees grow in unusually harsh conditions — the soil is rocky, sandy, and lacks nutrients. She extensively studied microbes from these trees to understand how they flourished in such harsh conditions.

Dr. Doty spent the decades that followed researching these endophytes and their unique properties and benefits, including nutrient use efficiency and abiotic stress tolerance.

She has published dozens of articles in leading academic journals on this topic and wrote the definitive book on endophytes, Functional Importance of the Plant Microbiome. Her research, including detailed genomic analysis, shows that these endophytes contain a gene associated with atmospheric nitrogen fixation. Fluorescent imaging confirms that the endophytes colonize the inside of plant roots and shoots.

Intrinsyx Bio has an exclusive license to commercialize the naturally occurring endophytes discovered by Dr. Doty and is actively developing commercial products that are proven to improve nutrient uptake and overall plant health.

University of Washington’s Doty Plant Microbiology Lab

The Plant Microbiology Lab researches how natural plant-microbe symbioses can solve pressing environmental issues. It isolates and cultures endophytes, and researches the mechanisms by which they colonize plants, increase plant growth and yields in nutrient-limited conditions, increase water use efficiency and drought tolerance, and improve plant health. Its research is used in agriculture, forestry, bioenergy, and environmental restoration.

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