UVA professor creating sustainable alternative to pesticides

Published: Jun. 27, 2022 at 5:46 PM EDT
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CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (WVIR) - A professor with the University of Virginia is trying to make fruits, vegetables, and the entire environment a little safer.

“When I think of Charlottesville and central Virginia, I think a lot about, like, the sustainability movement,” Bryan Berger said.

That’s part of the reason why Berger says he came to UVA in 2017. He didn’t know the project was going to happen in the future, but he knew the opportunities would be there.

“When you start a company, you have to move outside the university. Developing the technology, manufacturing it, you know, giving it to partners, going out to vineyards in Virginia, working with people to test it in the field,” the professor said.

Berger started Lytos Tech in 2018. The company is working to develop safe alternatives to the chemicals typically sprayed on plants.

“We’re at a place now where we’re just finalizing our manufacturing. We’ve done, I guess, 15, over 15 field trials,” Berger said. “We know it works.”

The professor says Lytos is working with vineyards in the Charlottesville-Albemarle County area to conduct some of those trials. Together, they’re trying to make the space more sustainable.

“More chemical use leads to more contamination, more ending up in the foods,” Berger said. “That was a big driver for us, you know, and using a biological alternative is safe.”

Berger says the product is a protein and he worked with a lot of partners in Charlottesville to pull it all together. He patented his invention through the UVA Licensing & Ventures Group.

“We’re using something which is natural, biodegradable, safe, as opposed to petrochemical or some sort of synthetic, which can persist in the environment for a long time,” he said.

Berger says the product is still a few years away from being in stores.

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