EXIST fellowship granted to Dr. Rebecca Melcher for preparation of her planned start-up biotech company

Already halfway through her doctoral project, Rebecca had had the idea to use her technical and scientific know-how to spin-off a start-up biotech company. But first, she continued her research on the sulphated polysaccharide ulvan from green algae as a priming agent and elicitor of induced disease resistance reactions in crop plants. This work, which finally won her the doctoral degree, resulted in so far three papers, and a few more manuscripts are in different stages of being published. During her work, she had developed tools to quantify the disease resistance inducing capacity of ulvans, and her idea was to develop these into tools to test and predict the efficacy of potential plant strengthening biostimulants. These are compounds that boost plant growth and development, help plants to use nutrients efficiently and to tolerate abiotic stress such as drought or heat, and sometimes also to defend themselves against pathogens and pests. Biostimulants are believed to become important players in our future agriculture which will have to rely on a synergistic combination of classical agrochemicals and novel agrobiologics to guarantee today’s high quantity and quality of harvest without today’s strong negative impacts on the environment and, sometimes, on our health as customers.