Molly Cadle-Davidson
Molly Cadle-Davidson Chief Science Officer, ABM

Molly Cadle-Davidson first started with ABM as a consultant in 2013, but it wasn’t long before she was working full time as assistant chief scientific officer in January 2014. Now as chief science officer, she works to enhance ABM genomics strategies and to foster next-generation product development. Cadle-Davidson is an expert in the field of genetics and is well versed in the application of genomics and next-generation sequencing techniques for trait-based research and development. Prior to joining ABM, she was involved in government work with SRC, Inc. and aided other government-funded programs with the Departments of Homeland Security, State, Defense and Justice. While at SRC, Inc., her work resulted in one trade secret, two patents pending and one patent application currently being prepared for the company. Cadle-Davidson holds a Bachelor of Science in genetics from the University of California, as well as a Master of Science in plant pathology from Washington State University and a doctorate in plant breeding and genetics from Cornell University.

An organism’s environment is another important element scientists developing biologicals must consider.

Furthermore, because microbes have evolved with plants, the two interact in many different ways. For instance, microbes influence the phytobiome and may change the microbial makeup surrounding plant roots and leaf surfaces. Microbes can also directly signal the plant to change its gene expression, or how the plant recovers from environmental stress.

These are systems involving many genes, and because biologicals can activate or influence these large systems, they introduce another set of variables into agriculture.

We already know the biggest influence on agricultural performance is environment. Now we’re adding another biological system, which further changes that environment. Those of us creating biological products try to control environmental variability. We can’t control the weather, but we really must ensure when we put a product out there it’s not introducing more variability. We work hard to shrink that variability while still adding value in terms of yield and quality.

Fortunately, our industry is changing: it is getting better for biological seed treatments. For example, companies like ABM are providing application guidance—these products can be tank-mixed, but the time they are efficacious has limits. Also, we’re seeing more innovations in the field for biologicals application. For instance, many seed treaters now have a separate port for biological products.

We now have the science to support the benefits of biological products, end-users are experiencing enhanced performance first-hand, and companies are able to provide consistent product quality. Biologicals can do an enormous amount of good, and this sector is growing rapidly as the agriculture industry recognizes that value.