MicroBio RhizoGen is a Saskatoon-based, world-leading biotechnology company specializing in the development and production of legume inoculants. MicroBio RhizoGen was launched in 1987 by Saskatoon agricultural scientist Steve Stephens and local businessman Murray Trapp. It has developed the technology behind using a naturally occurring bacterium, or inoculant, called rhizobium to increase yields of legumes and forage crops. When applied to crops such as alfalfa, chickpeas, dry beans, lentils, and peas, the bacteria enhance the plant's natural ability to absorb nitrogen from the air into its root system. These inoculants provide farmers with an organic, low-cost, environmentally friendly alternative to synthetic fertilizers. In 1995, a British investment firm took sole ownership of MicroBio RhizoGen; five years later the company was bought by the American firm Becker Underwood. MicroBio RhizoGen has research and manufacturing facilities in Saskatoon, and a staff of about fifty full-time employees. MicroBio RhizoGen has experienced growth in annual sales from $30,000 in its inception year to over $3.5 million in 2003. During the same period its market area expanded from western Canada to the United States and overseas.