R&D: why and how MORFO works with specialized laboratories

Image source: KÖM/MORFO
April 19, 2023

MORFO continuously carries out experiments and analyses in different laboratories. This R&D work is an extremely important aspect of our mission, as it allows us to broaden our microbiological, agronomic, botanical and forestry knowledge.

Working with recognized laboratories: our strategy for growing millions of hectares of diverse forests

In concrete terms, during these 6-month cycle experiments, we test the germination and growth of species under reconstituted conditions before planting on real plots. In particular, we analyze the state of health during different germination events, root development, inter-plant relations or relations between plants and micro-organisms. These tests are carried out according to the different types of soils on which we may have to reforest (compacted, saline, dry...). We also vary the climatic conditions in order to understand and test the species in various environments.

In doing so, we understand the species and optimize their growth. We also develop our own species catalog to help make decisions about species selection for future projects. For example, we have studied dormancy breaking for each species, which maximizes the germination rate and therefore allows us to have more plants and control the germination time.

A first fruitful collaboration with the IRD

L'Institute of Research for Development (IRD) is a French research organization, original and unique in the European landscape of research for development. For more than 65 years, the IRD has focused its research on the relationship between man and his environment in Africa, the Mediterranean, Latin America, Asia and the French tropical overseas territories. Since January 1, 2021, a new research unit located in Montpellier has been created and analyzes the interactions between the plant and its environment (microbes and insects in particular).

germination tests for reforestation
IRD, Photo credits: Jean-Baptiste Avril

We signed an initial research collaboration in May 2021 with IRD. This first collaboration ended in December 2022. It allowed us to demonstrate the feasibility and scientific validity of the seed encapsulation process of our company MORFO on tropical, temperate and Sahelian species. This collaboration also allowed us to test the results of this process when applied on a large scale or on various terrains.

This partnership is led by Robin Duponnois, Director of Research at IRD since 2002. Robin Duponnois has carried out various scientific, technical and administrative activities of evaluation, advice and management of research for 20 years, while being posted in various countries of the South (Senegal and neighboring countries, Burkina Faso, Madagascar, Morocco, Tunisia). His work focuses on the ecology and valorization of microbial antagonists of nematodes (biological control), the role of mycorrhizal symbioses in the evolution of tropical and Mediterranean ecosystems, and their applications, plant and microbial biotechnologies. He is an internationally recognized specialist in the knowledge and management of soil-microorganism-plant and rhizosphere systems. We would like to thank him sincerely for his confidence, as well as that of his colleagues.

A new agricultural research program in 2023

Following the results of this first collaboration, we signed a second research collaboration in January 2023. This agreement starts in February 2023 and is part of a new agronomic research program called VEGE+. This program will last 24 months. It will be divided into 3 subprograms:

- a second research collaboration with the UMR LSTM (IRD/CIRAD/INRAE) named VEGEDRONE II

- a research collaboration with the LASEM laboratory of the University of Sao Carlos in Brazil, a reference in forest restoration in Brazil

- an increase in the size of our in-house laboratory, increasing our analysis capacity fivefold

The objective of this program is to continue to improve current processes, but with greater ambition in the application of new processes to strengthen seed germination, seedling growth and resistance, but especially the restoration of soil microbiological life.

Other collaborations between MORFO and laboratories

The partnership with IRD is an example of working together to improve plantings and survival rates in the different biomes we work on. But it is not the only one. In Brazil, for example, we will start joint research with EMBRAPA and UFSCAR, a public research university.

"The partnership with Morfo will allow the selection and monitoring of species with direct seeding ability, reducing the costs of restoration on a larger scale with the support of drones" - Fatima C.M. Piña-Rodrigues, professor atUFSCar.

Co-founder and Chief Operating Officer (COO)
Hugo Asselin
- Paris, France
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