Pluton Biosciences, an innovative startup harnessing the power of microbes for sustainable agriculture solutions, has announced the completion of a $16.5 million Series A funding round. The round was co-led by Illumina Ventures and RA Capital, with additional support from existing investors Fall Line Capital, The Grantham Foundation, and First In Ventures, alongside new investors Wollemi, Radicle Growth, and iSelect.
Elizabeth Gallegos, CEO of Pluton, revealed that the funds would expedite the development of Pluton’s flagship product, the Microbial Cover Crop™, and advance a microbial-derived pesticide designed to combat the fall armyworm. “This funding will allow us to push our products through field trials and towards commercial partnerships, expand our team, and harness our Micromining™ platform’s full potential to identify customized solutions for agriculture quickly,” Gallegos stated.
The investment marks Illumina Ventures’ first venture into the AgBio sector. Charles Lin, Ph.D., from Illumina Ventures, who now joins Pluton Biosciences’ Board of Directors, expressed his enthusiasm. He noted, “We anticipate that genomics will enable breakthroughs in agriculture, similar to how it has revolutionized human diagnostics and therapeutics. Pluton’s Micromining™ approach, which melds genomics with rigorous data science, has the potential to unlock the power of soil microbes for a more sustainable future in agriculture and beyond.”
Michael Gillespie, MD, from RA Capital, another new board member, underscored the potential benefits of Pluton’s technology. “Microbial Cover Crops™ will enrich the soil with nitrogen, increasing crop yields, reducing fertilizer costs, enhancing sustainability, limiting erosion, and boosting soil quality and carbon sequestration. We proudly support Pluton’s mission to enhance nature’s toolkit and revolutionize agriculture.”
Joining the board alongside Lin and Gillespie are industry veterans Jerry Steiner and Neal Gutterson, Ph.D. Steiner, now serving as Board Executive Chair, lauded Pluton’s ambitious vision to utilize microbial genetic diversity to render agriculture carbon-negative, saying, “Our Micromining™ platform brings this vision to life, with field-level proof for the Microbial Cover Crop™ product building over the next few years. This product will complement many other innovations growers can use to enhance their farms’ profitability while helping the planet.”
Photo by Teddy Charti on Unsplash
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