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.

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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 https://www.newsbreak.com/news/2068007935467/space-nematodes-a-giant-leap-for-interplanetary-agriculture


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

Pheronym’s amazing 6 week-journey at the NSF I-Corps teams program

The challenges, up and downs, surprising discoveries, and meeting amazing people on the way to completing 100 customer discovery interviews.

Image for postPheronym is developing pheromones from microscopic roundworms, nematodes, to control agricultural pests; nematodes, and insects. Our end users are growers, conventional and organic farmers. Our task was very simple: “Talk to 100 growers to understand their pain points with respect to difficult pests”. Traditionally, at I-corps participants get out of the building or go to conferences to meet people for in-person interviews. We could easily go to a few grower conferences and a couple of industry conferences and maybe meet 20- 25 people at each conference. How hard could it be talking to 100 growers? Keep reading!


When: November 12, 2020
Where: National Steinbeck Center/Virtual
Time: 4-6pm PT/ 7-9pm EST





From Farms to Incubators: Women Innovators in California Agtech

Exhibition page


Dr. Fatma Kaplan’s story will be featured in the women innovators in California Agtech exhibition at the Steinbeck Center. The photos and works are in the actual gallery and will be available online and in-person.

Food and agriculture receive well-deserved attention, especially during the pandemic–the World Food Program recently won the Nobel Prize.

Book is available at Barnes & Noble

From Farms to Incubators: Women Innovators in California Agtech by Amy Wu 

See the following link for the table of content or pre-order.

It is a great honor to be among the Women Innovators of California Agtech. See chapter twelve for Dr. Fatma Kaplan.


Pheronym Granted Patent for Ag Biocontrol Breakthrough Technology

Nematode Pheromone Extract Dramatically Increases Efficacy of Nematode Dispersal for Crop Biocontrol

DAVIS, California – August 24, 2020– Pheronym, an Ag-biotech pest control company, has been granted its patent for its breakthrough in creating a way to increase the effectiveness of Nematodes’ ability to control pest insects, naturally, in agriculture.   The patent is listed as “Nematode dispersant composition and method” and is US patent number: US 10,736,326 B2.”

While nematodes (microscopic roundworms) are regularly used in pest control, commercially available nematodes do not disperse as well as they could when they are applied to a field. This is because they have lost their pheromone signal to hunt for new prey. Since the insect target is mobile, the nematodes need to be actively moving and hunting for a new insect host. Pheronym’s patent directly impacts this problem – significantly improving the mobility and aggressiveness of the nematodes making them more effective in killing pests.   It also expands their effective temperature range.

Dr. Fatma Kaplan, Inventor

“It’s great to have additional validation on our breakthrough,” said Dr. Fatma Kaplan, CEO of Pheronym.  “The recognition of our IP along with four peer-reviewed studies on its effectiveness bring us another step closer to broad commercialization of this natural approach to pest control that will be better for people and our planet. ”