FOA115: Microscopic Biological Pest Wars with Fatma Kaplan and Cameron Schiller of Pheronym

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Fatma Kaplan and Cameron Schiller are the founders of Pheronym, an agricultural biotechnology company that develops safe and nontoxic solutions to protect a wide variety of plants. Their flagship product is based on pheromones which is extracted from microscopic roundworms called nematodes. Fatma is Pheronym’s CEO/CSO and is an accomplished scientist with a Ph.D. in Plant Molecular and Cellular Biology and postdoctoral training in Natural Product Chemistry. Cameron is the COO and has extensive experience in entrepreneurship with a bachelor’s degree in economics and a Master of Science degree in pharmacy healthcare management.

Fatma and Cameron join me today to discuss their pheromone-based pesticide and how it can improve the agricultural landscape in the future. They describe the primary problem regarding nematodes, what inspired them to investigate the use of pheromones as a pesticide, and what eventually lead them to make nematodes work for farmers instead of against them. They also explain the science behind their product and its mechanical and legal challenges as well as share their experience with accelerators.

“We need to have rotations and multiple solutions when it comes to pest control options.” - Fatma Kaplan

This Week on The Future of Agriculture Podcast:

  • What made them look at nematodes for agricultural purposes?
  • What pheromones are and how they utilize it to control nematodes.
  • The challenges of developing nematodes and the pheromones to control them.
  • How to collect nematode secretions.
  • How farmers can identify if they have a nematode problem.
  • The most effective treatment against parasitic nematodes.
  • The difference between nematodes with pheromones vs nematodes without pheromones.
  • How damaging are nematodes to agriculture?
  • Their experience with accelerators and how they helped the business grow.
  • How do connections and networking work with accelerators?
  • Should they be worried about nematodes developing pheromone resistance?

Fatma Kaplan and Cameron Schiller’s Key Takeaways:

  • Nematodes can hinder farm production, but they can be utilized to benefit the agriculture industry.
  • If you’ve done everything but can’t seem to grow your crops or produce right, you might have a nematode problem.

Connect with Fatma Kaplan and Cameron Schiller

  • Pheronym
  • Email: schiller@pheronym.com
  • Phone: (352) 219-4464

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The Future of Agriculture Podcast is now part of the Farm and Rural Ag Network. Listen to more ag-related podcasts by subscribing on iTunes or on the Farm and Rural Ag Network Website today.

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