Pheronym and USDA Enter into 5-Year CRADA

Focus is on full commercialization of company’s patented Nematode Pheromone Extract of Nematode Dispersal for Crop Biocontrol

DAVIS, CA, UNITED STATES, December 9, 2020 / — Pheronym, an ag-biotech pest control company, has signed a 5-year Cooperative Research and Development Agreement (CRADA) with the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Research Service (USDA ARS). This CRADA supports their existing National Science Foundation (NSF) SBIR phase I grant awarded in mid-2020 and provides for greenhouse and field trials using the company’s patented method of pheromone production. The goal is to lay the final groundwork for commercial manufacturing of their sustainable, eco-friendly approach to pest control. The target pests include thrips, a globally important pest that developed resistance to chemical pesticides. Other target pests including but not limited to pecan weevil, citrus weevil, peachtree borer, and flatheaded appletree borer.
“The ability to deploy our solution at an industrial scale will contribute to a dramatic increase in sustainable agriculture,” said Dr. Fatma Kaplan, CEO of Pheronym. “This CRADA with the USDA ARS is a critical next step to making that happen and enabling us to fully commercialize our natural approach to pest control that will be better for people and our planet.” Keep reading.

Venture Catalyst Knowledge Exchange: Partnering with the International Space Station National Lab

Office of ResearchUC Davis Venture Catalyst Knowledge Exchange Webinar

Launch Your Research and Development to the International Space Station: Partnering With the International Space Station National Lab


  • Dr. Etop Esen, Commercial Innovation Manager, International Space Station National Laboratory
  • Dr. Miki Sode, Commercial Innovation Manager, International Space Station National Laboratory
  • Dr. Fatma Kaplan, CEO/CSO, Pheronym

Join us on Thursday, November 5, 2020, at 10:30 AM – 11:45 AM PST

Here is a link to register:

2020 Entomology Virtual Annual Meeting

Dr. Kaplan is invited to speak at the session “It’s Going Down for Real” Ecological Interactions in the Soil organized by Dr. Anjel Helms and Dr. Loren Rivera-Vega at the Department of Entomology at Texas A&M University, and Dr. Swayamjit Ray at Penn State.

The title of the talk is Pheromones stimulate dispersal of entomopathogenic nematodes during quiescence.

If you missed, you still have a chance to listen until November 25 on demand.

Read more on the nematode pheromones at Scientific Reports.

Uncovering Pheronym’s value proposition during NSF I-Corps Teams

Nothing clarifies your value proposition like one hundred customer interviews.

Image for post

To our surprise, neither conventional nor organic growers of specialty and row crops were satisfied with the current pest management tools. Regardless of their pest control practices, conventional, organic, or integrated pest management (IPM), growers are looking for new solutions to persistent pest problems.  Keep reading.

Astronematode is on Gardeners of the Galaxy episode 6

Hear Dr. Fatma Kaplan and Karl Schiller talk about the challenges and excitement of sending the first agricultural biocontrol experiment to the International Space Station on Gardeners of the Galaxy episode 6! We had a great time chatting with Emma. Click on the picture below to listen to the podcast.

You can read the article we published, Dynamics of entomopathogenic nematode foraging and infectivity in microgravity, in npj Microgravity.


Pheronym identifying the beachhead market at the NSF I-Corps Teams

It’s incredible how much the insight from one hundred interviews can focus your market entry strategy and position your startup for success.

Pheronym develops pheromone products from microscopic roundworms, nematodes to control agricultural pests. By controlling nematode behavior, we can control both pest nematodes and insects. Our goal at the 6-week NSF I-corps team program was to identify the beachhead market for our product entry. 

The first week we interviewed Land O Lakes. We were shocked to learn the number of acres infested with soybean cyst nematode, a microscopic roundworm that parasitizes plant roots and reduces yield. We learned that farmers need eco-friendly solutions for soybean cyst nematode, and seed treatments are an excellent solution. We immediately realized that seed treatment was our ultimate market. However, it requires a long time to get to market. Just the field trails need 2-3 years for the channel partners to conduct. Luckily, the second week, we identified our beachhead market, Keep reading.

Space Nematodes: A Giant Leap for Interplanetary Agriculture

Kylie Swisher Grimm : USDA ARSNews release by Janice López-Muñoz

WASHINGTON, DC, September, 22, 2020—In a successful return-to-space mission, research study results indicate that beneficial insect-killing nematodes (small round worms) can be used in the future for natural control of insect pests when humans are growing crops in space. The research objective was to study entomopathogenic (insect-killing) nematodes (EPNs) foraging and infection dynamics in space onboard the International Space Station (ISS) between December 2019 and January 2020.

These beneficial roundworms may have “what it takes” for controlling pest insects that threaten crops grown aboard during long-term human missions in space. That’s the implication of findings from experiments conducted aboard the ISS and published in the journal npj|Microgravity.

This EPNs space mission research was a collaborative effort led by Dr. Fatma Kaplan, CEO of Pheronym, an award-winning ag-biotech pest management company that enables sustainable farming through its novel platform of nematode pheromones, the Center for the Advancement of Science in Space (manager of the International Space Station U.S. National Laboratory) and USDA-ARS (Agricultural Research Service) co-project director research leader Dr. David Shapiro-Ilan. The research was sponsored by the ISS National Lab, who partners with NASA to utilize the U.S. research allocation aboard the orbiting laboratory. Keep Reading

This news release is featured by

The key to farming on Mars might be breeding parasitic space worms

The parasitic space worms are coming, and they’re ready to kill.

No crop dusting in space

Without proper pest control, farmers on Earth risk losing up to 80 percent of their crops. Needless to say, that kind of bad harvest could prove devastating for a developing space colony. Clearly, some form of pest control is sensible to investigate. Since air quality is critical in space (being a limited resource, and it not being quite so easy to open a window to get clean air), it would also make sense if pest control methods were biological, non-toxic ones. Keep Reading