Metagenom Bio Life Science (MBLS, website) and Healthy Hydroponics InnoTech (website) announced the launch of the subsidiary company, Healthy Hydroponics InnoTech, dedicated to providing innovative genomics-based pathogen monitoring services to hydroponic growers to enhance prediction of crop diseases and assurance of food safety. Healthy Hydroponics InnoTech is headquartered in Waterloo, and shares space with MBLS, which will continue to provide microbiome sequencing, bioinformatic, and consulting services and products for academic and industry clients.
The Healthy Hydroponics team employs the microbiome analysis technology that MBLS has been using and improving for almost a decade in its work for academic and industry clients, and will apply it to the controlled environment agriculture industry. This technology includes PCR, high throughput sequencing, machine learning, and a proprietary in-house curated database to bring growers pathogen detection and microbiome surveillance services that have been tested and refined through feedback from commercial hydroponic growers. Growers are also able to track the history of pathogens in their hydroponic systems using the Growers’ Portal which makes it easy to interpret the test results.
Healthy Hydroponics’ team of scientists is composed of microbiologists, molecular biologists, and bioinformaticians who can help growers create microbiome surveillance plans that are unique to a farm’s hydroponic system and crops. Healthy Hydroponics’ pathogen detection and microbiome surveillance services help growers to understand the microbiome and its changes to make informed decisions going forward.
With the challenges of climate change and the consequences brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, sustainable food production and food security are more important than ever. Greenhouses, vertical farming, and hydroponics are some of the solutions to ensure people have access to high-quality, nutritious food that is abundant and safe. Healthy Hydroponics’ goal is to enhance food safety assurance and improve prediction of crop diseases in hydroponic systems for healthy production of foods.
In 2020, MBLS received funding from the Canadian Agricultural Partnership (CAP), a federal-provincial-territorial initiative to strengthen the agriculture, agri-food and agri-based products sector and from the National Research Council of Canada’s Industrial Research Assistance Program (NRC-IRAP). This allowed MBLS to work with farmers in Canada to collect and analyze samples from fruit, vegetable, and cannabis hydroponic systems to identify their microbiomes. MBLS thanks CAP and NRC-IRAP for recognizing the importance of the project’s goals to enhance food safety and crop health.
Healthy Hydroponics Services
Healthy Hydroponics InnoTech is currently offering two subscription-based services, Pathogen+ and Pathog
Pathogen Mini detects the presence of one pathogen at a time. It can be used as a precautionary measure to detect pathogens early in asymptomatic crops or as a pathogen detection test in symptomatic crops. The benefit of this test is that it has a quick turnaround time and is at a lower price point as it checks for one pathogen at a time.
Pathogen+ identifies the relative abundance of 500+ plant and foodborne pathogens. It can be used as a precautionary measure and monitoring tool for pathogens before symptoms appear or as a pathogen detection test in symptomatic crops. The benefit of this test is that growers will be able to track multiple pathogens in their system at a time.
The Healthy Hydroponics Growers’ Portal is a new and innovative system that allows growers to access interactive reports showing the pathogen composition and relative abundance over time throughout the growing season. The Portal is a one-stop access for growers to quickly identify the trends of pathogens to make informed decisions for the health of their crops. The portal will continue to evolve to meet growers’ needs.