Pluton Biosciences is hard at work identifying beneficial microorganisms and putting them to work in agriculture, and just raised a $16.5 million Series A round to commercialize its most promising finds.

The company raised its $6.6 million seed round in 2021, and I reported then about its approach of identifying and isolating microbes and bacteria that perform useful work. Nature is pretty good at solving problems via billions of years of evolution, and there’s tremendous biodiversity in every scoop of soil or microbiome.

As cool as it is to isolate and study dozens of new-to-science micros, ultimately Pluton needed to choose one that worked as product, not just a project. They settled on what they call a “microbial cover crop” that captures and sequesters carbon and nitrogen in the soil. This process is not just good for the crops and the environment, but it’s also potentially a very valuable market; Pivot Bio raised a monster $430 million in 2021 to commercialize a microbial alternative to nitrogen-filled fertilizer. READ MORE