Avalo uses machine learning to accelerate the adaptation of crops to climate change
Climate change is affecting farming all over the world, and solutions are seldom simple. But if you could plant crops that resisted the heat, cold or drought instead of moving a thousand miles away, wouldn’t you? Avalo helps plants like these become a reality using AI-powered genome analysis that can reduce the time and money it takes to breed hardier plants for this hot century.
Founded by two friends who thought they’d take a shot at a startup before committing to a life of academia, Avalo has a very direct value proposition, but it takes a bit of science to understand it.
Big seed and agriculture companies put a lot of work into creating better versions of major crops. By making corn or rice ever so slightly more resistant to heat, insects, drought or flooding, they can make huge improvements to yields and profits for farmers, or alternatively make a plant viable to grow somewhere it couldn’t before.
“There are big decreases to yields in equatorial areas — and it’s not that corn kernels are getting smaller,” said co-founder and CEO Brendan Collins. “Farmers move upland because salt water intrusion is disrupting fields, but they run into early spring frosts that kill their seedlings. Or they need rust resistant wheat to survive fungal outbreaks in humid, wet summers. We need to create new varieties if we want to adapt to this new environmental reality.”
To make those improvements in a systematic way, researchers emphasize existing traits in the plant; this (Read more...)