Published: Nov 15, 2021

by: Dr. Geoffrey Brown, PharmD

Interview with Paul Rushton, PhD: President & CSO of LPC Naturals

With Geoff Brown

In our last issue, you may have noticed our centerfold ad for Prime Superior products; a versatile group of soil and plant enhancers that harness the natural power of the Beauveria bassiana fungus. The Prime Superior product line is produced by LPC Naturals, a new plant biotechnology company based in Buffalo.

We recently had the chance to sit down with the President and Chief Scientific Officer at LPC Naturals, Dr. Paul Rushton, and the rest of his team that’s responsible for the development of the Prime Superior product line.

Geoff Brown: Tell me a little bit about your background.

Dr. Paul Rushton: I’ve been working in the field (of plant biotechnology) for more than 30 years. I received my degree in biochemistry from Cambridge University and my Ph.D. from Manchester University. Following that, I worked at the Max-Planck Institute in Cologne Germany for ten years. The Max-Planck Institute is an internationally recognized leader in plant sciences and I was fortunate enough to be involved in a number of discoveries in the field of plant disease resistance during my time there. I then worked in the United Kingdom before coming to the US in 2005. Since then, I’ve worked at various Universities here in the US including the University of Virginia, South Dakota State, and Texas A&M. More recently, I was the VP of Plant Biotechnology at 22nd Century Group.

GB: 22nd Century Group is a pretty big player in the cannabis space in town, what did your role there look like?

DPR: I was primarily tasked with developing new ways to manipulate cannabinoid expression. For example, breeding plants in order to increase the yield of certain cannabinoids such as cannabigerol (CBG). I believe I set up the first hemp biotechnology laboratory in NYS and the Company has since gone on to develop a number of proprietary strains with desirable cannabinoid profiles.

GB: That sounds like really interesting work, but I digress. Let’s get back to Prime Superior. What is Beauveria bassiana?

DPR: Beauveria is a naturally occurring fungus that typically resides in soil, but its existence in nature has been greatly reduced by the use of modern growing techniques including pesticides, tilling, and other chemicals. We’ve known about Beauveria for a really long time, it was discovered in the 1800s, but many of the benefits Beauveria has for plants aren’t widely recognized yet.

GB: How exactly does Beauveria work to help plants?

DPR: Beauveria forms a symbiotic relationship with all rooted plants including cannabis. If you treat the roots the benefits start at the roots but occur throughout the entire plant thus it’s systemic. Beauveria colonization enhances root growth resulting in things like improved nutrient uptake and overall health and quality of the plant. The systemic establishment of Beauveria in the plant’s stems and leaves promotes overall plant growth and enhances the production of natural antifungal peptides and chemicals. This has very positive effects on the plant’s resistance to pathogens.

GB: What type of benefits can cannabis/hemp growers expect to see from Prime Superior Products?

DPR: Our customers have greatly improved cannabinoid & terpene yields using our Prime Superior Beauveria treatments. We’ve seen 15-20% increases in cannabinoids and up to 109% increase in terpenes with some that moved from undetectable to detectable levels.

GB: Can you give me a brief overview of the different types of Prime Superior products that are available?

DPR: We currently have three products. Prime Superior Clone, which is an inoculation honey, is geared toward cloning and contains only organic honey and our proprietary strain of Beauveria. Prime Superior Drench, which is a misting spray, is our most versatile product and can be applied to leaves, roots, and soil. Prime Superior Seed is a dry powder seed coating that’s intended for ungerminated seeds. The seed coating contains only Beauveria in a graphite-talc carrier powder.

GB: What makes Prime Superior different from other products that claim to enhance plant growth and ward off problematic pests?

Christopher Lent (CMO): For one, it’s an all natural solution. All of the Prime Superior products are completely safe for animals and humans. Both Nick Bianco (CBO) and I have actually eaten the product multiple times to demonstrate just how safe our product is. So, it’s natural, it’s safe, and the benefits our proprietary strain of Beauveria is able to bring plants are simply unmatched. Whether it’s cannabis you’re growing, hemp, or vegetables for that matter. The results you’ll see will surprise you especially when you compare treated vs untreated plants.

GB: I understand you may not be able to talk too much about it, but can we talk a little bit about the effects Beauveria may have on insects or pests?

DPR: Beauveria bassiana is an entomopathogenic fungus. This means it kills or seriously disables insects that consume it. Because Beauveria is systemically present, insects or pests trying to consume plant material are likely to consume Beauveria hyphae as well.

GB: Really interesting stuff. I’m super excited for you guys and the rest of the team at LPC Naturals. Thank you so much for taking the time to speak with me and for educating me on this topic that I know close to nothing about.

For more information about Prime Superior products you can visit primesuperior.com. Their products are also available at the following local hydroponics stores: Buffalo Roots Hydroponics and Organics, #HydroInc, Green Tree Garden Supply, and Green Zone Hydroponics. Thanks for helping us share this information with your readers.

Dr. Rushton has over 30 years of experience in plant biotechnology. He has a degree in biochemistry from Cambridge University and a Ph. D. from Manchester University. He spent 10 years researching at the world-famous Max-Planck-Institute in Cologne Germany where he made several world first discoveries in the area of plant disease resistance. In the United Kingdom, he has also worked at Bristol University and Oxford University. Dr. Rushton arrived in the USA in 2005 and has since held the positions of Research Assistant Professor at The University of Virginia, and Associate Professor at South Dakota State University and Texas A&M. More recently, he was Vice President for Plant Biotechnology at 22nd Century Group. Dr. Rushton is an expert on plant disease resistance, drought responses, vertical farming, and plant secondary metabolites including cannabinoids and nicotine. He is a leader and lecturer in the new field of industrial hemp/cannabis and also has extensive expertise in soybean, turf grass, tobacco, cereals, Arabidopsis, mosses, and rice. Dr. Rushton has over 60 publications and these have been cited by other scientists over 10,000 times. He also has numerous patents and patent applications. In addition to science, Dr. Rushton has experience in writing press releases, intellectual property, and speaking to audiences of all levels. He has also appeared several times on local television.

Related: Meet Brennon Anderson of Bridge Studios

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Dr. Geoffrey Brown, PharmD

Dr. Geoffrey Brown is a registered medical cannabis pharmacist in New York State and the founder of CannaBuff. He graduated from the University at Buffalo with a Doctor of Pharmacy degree in 2018. His cannabis research has been featured by the national advocacy group NORML and local news organizations. Please feel free to reach out to him if you want to connect!