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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Research Project: Mitigating Agricultural Sources of Particulate Matter and Greenhouse Gas Emissions in the Pacific Northwest

Location: Land Management and Water Conservation Research

Title: Microbial weed control and microbial herbicides

Authors
item Stubbs, Tami -
item Kennedy, Ann

Submitted to: Book Chapter
Publication Type: Book / Chapter
Publication Acceptance Date: December 1, 2011
Publication Date: January 1, 2012
Citation: Stubbs, T.L., Kennedy, A.C. 2012. Microbial weed control and microbial herbicides. In R. Alvarez-Fernandez (Ed.), Herbicides - Environmental Impact Studies and Management Approaches. Rijeka, Croatia. InTech. p.135-166.

Interpretive Summary: Microbial weed control represents an innovative means to manage troublesome weeds and utilize the naturally occurring biological herbicides produced by soil microorganisms. There have been many investigations of potential products for weed management. Some have been successful at suppressing weeds in the field and a select few are marketed products that now reduce weed nfestations. Further studies are needed to continue to search for additional tools to combat weeds. Increasing our understanding of plant-microbe interactions will assist in this effort. Biocontrol agents need to be specific, competitive and well–matched with the weed of interest. The search for biocontrol agents from the environment entails not only finding microorganisms that inhibit a weed, but that are specific for the weed or related plant species and have an economically viable market. Host-range testing and non-target species testing are needed early in the process. In addition, the development of formulations and delivery systems need to be developed to prolong the shelf-life and efficacy of the biocontrol agents in a variety of environments. Biocontrol should not be considered a stand-alone option, but may be best if integrated with other methods of control, especially with those that are ecologically sound. Biocontrol agents to reduce or complement chemical herbicides expand options in weed management and tend toward the use of ecologically based systems. They add additional tools in the arsenal of weed management efforts. There is a wealth of genetic potential in the soil and the environment to be explored, screened and tested for weed suppression.

Technical Abstract: Microbes can be used in weed control. There have been many investigations of potential products for weed management. Some have been successful at suppressing weeds in the field and a select few are marketed products that now reduce weed infestations. Further studies are needed to continue to search for additional tools to combat weeds. Increasing our understanding of plant-microbe interactions will assist in this effort. Biocontrol agents need to be specific, competitive and well–matched with the weed of interest. The search for biocontrol agents from the environment entails not only finding microorganisms that inhibit a weed, but that are specific for the weed or related plant species and have an economically viable market. Host-range testing and non-target species testing are needed early in the process. In addition, the development of formulations and delivery systems need to be developed to prolong the shelf-life and efficacy of the biocontrol agents in a variety of environments. Biocontrol should not be considered a stand-alone option, but may be best if integrated with other methods of control, especially with those that are ecologically sound. Biocontrol agents to reduce or complement chemical herbicides expand options in weed management and tend toward the use of ecologically based systems. They add additional tools in the arsenal of weed management efforts. There is a wealth of genetic potential in the soil and the environment to be explored, screened and tested for weed suppression.

Last Modified: 7/30/2014