Torgny Näsholm’s research on amino acids as nitrogen source for plants revolutionised the understanding of plant nutrition. His results led to the development of novel and environmentally friendly nitrogen bio stimulants which are now commercialized by the company Arevo - a development that was last week awarded with the 2023 University spin-off prize at Umeågalan.
Torgny Näsholm initiated his research on nitrogen nutrition while working at the Department of Forest Genetics and Plant Physiology at the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences (SLU) that is part of UPSC. He is now Professor in Tree Ecophysiology at the SLU Department of Forest Ecology and Management but still collaborates closely with the UPSC research groups as an associated group leader.
His ground-breaking discovery, published in Nature 1998, was that trees can take up amino acids directly and that this is the preferred nitrogen source in boreal forests rather than ammonium or nitrate. This discovery changed the understanding of plant nutrition and led to the development of new types of nitrogen bio stimulants based on the amino acid arginine.
These bio stimulants have not only a positive effect on plant growth and stress resistance - they also reduce the leakage of nitrogen into the ground water. This is helps to decrease the environmental impact of nitrogen fertilisation, a point that was highlighted in the motivation for the University spin-off prize that was handed over on Wednesday last week at Umeågalan.
Several patents based on Torgny Näsholm’s research were originally filed and granted to the UPSC spin-off company SweTree Technologies that specialized this development in the daughter company SweTree Nutrition. The inventions are now developed and commercialized by new investors in the company Arevo.
Umeågalan is arranged by Umeå Municipality and Umeå University together with Umeå University Holding, SLU Holding and Umeå’s business community. The idea behind is to stimulate new collaborations and to contribute to make Umeå an attractive place for doing business. Eleven awards in different categories were handed out this year during the event on March 23 to companies located in the Umeå region.