College of Natural Resources Patents

Dr. Anne-Marie Stomp

Dr. Anne-Marie Stomp, associate professor of forestry at NC State, developed the first procedure to engineer duckweed genetically to produce therapeutic proteins such as insulin. She has started a biotechnology company called Biolex, Inc., to market this new, less expensive, and very consistent technology. The start-up of Biolex was partially funded by the NC State-affiliated Centennial Venture Partners, which provides venture capital funding to growing high-tech businesses connected with the university. Stomp says of the process and company, "Biolex is going to turn this small aquatic plant that is considered a weed into the premier protein production system of the twenty-first century."

  Photo of Anne-Marie Stomp.  
Dr. Anne-Marie Stomp, forestry, gets a closer look at a beaker of duckweed in her lab in Biltmore Hall.

What is Lemna?

Lemnaceae, or duckweeds, are a
family of monocots that thrive in
eutrophic freshwater environments.
The four genera of the aquatic
duckweed are morphologically
reduced, ranging from the larger and
more complex, multiple root
Spirodella to the smallest flowering
plants in the world, the rootless


Photograoh of Lemna gibba with flowers. Sketch of  Lemna gibba.
Photograph of Lemna gibba G3 with flowers. M indicates the position of the meristem.  
Photograph of a normal and transformed frond. Photo of the four genera that are part of the duckweed family.
Genetic engineering in Lemna gibba G3. Left to right: Normal frond and transformed frond expressing E. coli - glucuronidase (GUS). Representatives of the four genera in the duckweed family, shown here against a penny for scale.