Farming News - FOLIUM Science using Guided Biotics to reduce ammonia in poultry production

FOLIUM Science using Guided Biotics to reduce ammonia in poultry production

Improving gut health in animal production could significantly boost wellbeing and productivity, according to Ed Fuchs, co-founder of FOLIUM Science. The company has won funding from Innovate UK to extend the application of its Guided Biotics® platform technology to tackle the bacteria responsible for excessive ammonia production in the poultry house. It is the latest in a series of initiatives from FOLIUM Science to tackle major challenges in animal production.

Ed Fuchs says that gut health is key to performance: “Research has shown that even a short exposure to high concentrations of ammonia is harmful, and this gas is produced by enzymes from bacteria residing in the guts of the animals. Our platform technology can modulate the microbiome to reduce ammonia production and improve animal health.”

The company will be announcing a new development at the Agri-TechE REAP conference ‘Adaptation Through Innovation; Beyond the Comfort Zone’. The conference will explore strategies for creating opportunity from challenge.

Agri-TechE is a membership organisation that supports innovation in agricultural technologies. Director Dr Belinda Clarke comments: “FOLUM Science’s approach is a good example of agri-tech that addresses an unmet need and will quickly provide a return on investment.”

Ammonia in poultry houses is a major challenge. Unused nitrogen in the feed is converted to ammonia by bacteria in the gut. Many of these bacteria – Helicobacter, Staphylococcus, Klebsiella – also cause disease in poultry and humans. FOLIUM Science’s technology is able to selectively target and silence the genes involved in ammonia generation in these bacteria, weakening them so they are less able to colonise the gut and compete with beneficial bacteria in the microbiome.

Ed explains that, critically, the Guided Biotics process is not removing the bacteria: “Our technology is making these bacteria less aggressive, restoring the balance in the microbiome, and reducing the amount of ammonia produced. The plan for the future is to support the bird’s metabolism in becoming more efficient at repurposing this nitrogen into protein.”

FOLIUM Science has already produced a feed additive that will protect young chicks against common bacterial infections such as Salmonella and E. coli. This was announced at the Agri-TechE REAP conference in 2018 and is to be launched in Brazil next year. It offers good, highly specific, and targeted antimicrobial effects, with none of the bad side effects of an antibiotic. It also has probiotic properties.

Folium Science's Guided Biotics, based on CRISPR-Cas technology, have received endorsement from the Brazilian National BioSafety Committee (CTNBio) as a non-GM 'new-breeding technique' which is supporting the commercialisation of the company’s first product.

CRISPR-Cas is a defence system that has evolved in bacteria to protect them against invading viruses. FOLIUM Science is harnessing this natural system to manage and modulate bacteria in the microbiome.

Ed is keen for the UK to adopt a similar approach to Brazil, saying it will accelerate the development of new types of solutions.

“We have demonstrated that our Guided Biotics technology can have multiple benefits in the control of disease and improving performance in the poultry industry. We would encourage regulators to give overarching approval for the technology platform – the process we are deploying – rather than each output needing separate approvals as it does currently, as this would enable the rapid production of the products that the industry and the environment urgently need.”

FOLIUM Science is to announce its latest project developing new applications of its CRIPSR-Cas portfolio, a rapid lateral flow test for Salmonella, at the Agri-TechE REAP conference on 8th November 2023.