WASHINGTON -- The Agricultural Research Service of the U.S.Department of Agriculture intends to grant EcoScienceLaboratories Inc. an exclusive license to a bacterium that fightsfungi on apples, pears and other crops during storage.

The Amherst, Mass., company conducted field tests last fall ofPseudomonas syringae pr. lachrymans bacteria as part of aCooperative Research and Development Agreement (CRADA)with the ARS, according to David Miller, vice president anddirector of research and development.

P. syringae, an isolate from the surface of apple leaves,"exhibits anti-fungal properties (and) has utility in methods forcontrolling post-harvest disease," according to the patentapplication.

"We are looking at a variety of organisms that can be used totreat fruit before storage to replace chemical fungicides," Millertold BioWorld. "All apples and pears and many vegetables aretreated with chemical fungicides now. We are looking toreplace a sizeable portion of the market, especially in applesand pears," he said. The company is at least three years awayfrom marketing a product, said Miller.

The company is negotiating terms of the license, which willinvolve royalties. It will be granted unless ARS receivesevidence by July that the license would not be consistent withfederal law.

-- Steve Usdin BioWorld Washington Bureau

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