DISCOVERY AND APPLICATION OF MICROBIAL PRODUCTION AND FORMULATION BIOTECHNOLOGIES TO ENHANCE BIOCONTROL OF FUNGAL PLANT DISEASES
Project Number: 3620-22410-011-00
Start Date: May 14, 2007
End Date: May 08, 2012
Objective 1: Discover and develop new biocontrol agents that are active against an emerging disease, such as pink rot in stored potato tubers or sudden death syndrome of soybeans, and that possess superior potential for commercial development.
Objective 2: For newly identified biocontrol agents and/or currently researched agents active against Fusarium head blight or storage maladies of potato tubers, devise methodologies that optimize cell production and efficacy.
Objective 3: Develop and characterize the impact of culture variants, cultivation conditions or formulation protocols that proactively enhance convective drying, storage, rehydration, and deployment success of antagonist biomass.
The encompassing objective of this project is to elucidate the impact of fermentation and formulation on the fundamental nature of biomass efficacy and tolerance of stress during the processing and deployment of biocontrol agents in order to facilitate overcoming this crucial hurdle in biocontrol product development. Two subobjectives for main objectives 2 and 3 further clarify our research strategy and are presented in the “Approach and Research Procedures” section. Our research team is pleased to possess a unique blend of expertise and interactive research experience in plant pathology, chemical engineering, biochemistry and molecular biology to draw on in advancing this research plan.
Assay whole microbial populations or individual candidate antagonist strains selected from key infection sites of pink rot on stored potato tubers against the pathogen using whole tuber bioassays that mimic natural infection conditions. Industrial economics and market needs will be considered in crafting novel screens to select optimal biocontrol products and manufacturing processes. Use batch liquid cultivation techniques to develop biomass production media and protocols to maximize biomass quantity and quality, efficacy, survival of processing (dewatering and/or drying processes such as freeze-, air-, or spray-drying), formulation and storage, and host compatibility. Selected Gram negative and positive bacterial strains shown to be superior in reducing Fusarium head blight of wheat and potato maladies will be screened for excretion of active antifungal compounds. Utilize DNA microarray technology to discover genes involved in biocontrol agent cell response to environmental stresses, especially those encountered during drying. Employ knowledge of stress-response genes to design novel reporter-gene technologies, microbial cultivation protocols, and down-stream processing systems to foster and retain desired gene expression for surviving stress.