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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Title: Hurdles and Bottlenecks on the Road to Biocontrol of Plant Pathogens

Author
item Fravel, Deborah

Submitted to: Australasian Plant Pathlogy Society
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: November 15, 1999
Publication Date: N/A

Interpretive Summary: The use of beneficial microorganisms (biocontrol agents) to control plant pathogens has great potential for providing disease control with minimal environmental disruption. This review article addresses some of the ways that biocontrol research may be approached so that it is most likely to result in meaningful outcomes. Screening for new biocontrol agents needs to take into account characteristics of the crop, cropping systems and pathogen biology. Thinking about where and when the pathogen is most vulnerable will aid in designing appropriate screening procedures. Production and formulation of the biocontrol agent can affect cost, safety, shelf life and efficacy of the biocontrol agent. More attention should be devoted to these areas. One of the obstacles in acceptance of biocontrol is that disease control is less consistent than with chemical pesticides. Thus, there is a need for specialized knowledge about the ecology and modes of action of biocontrol agents so that we can predict when and where they are most likely to work, as well as when another control measure may be more appropriate. Registration of biocontrol agents can also be an obstacle. Research in all aspects of biocontrol is needed to provide safe, effective, environmentally benign plant disease control.

Technical Abstract: The use of beneficial microorganisms (biocontrol agents) to control plant pathogens has great potential for providing disease control with minimal environmental disruption. This review article addresses some of the ways that biocontrol research may be approached so that it is most likely to result in meaningful outcomes. Screening for new biocontrol agents needs to take into account characteristics of the crop, cropping systems and pathogen biology. Thinking about where and when the pathogen is most vulnerable will aid in designing appropriate screening procedures. Production and formulation of the biocontrol agent can affect cost, safety, shelf life and efficacy of the biocontrol agent. More attention should be devoted to these areas. One of the obstacles in acceptance of biocontrol is that disease control is less consistent than with chemical pesticides. Thus, there is a need for specialized knowledge about the ecology and modes of action of biocontrol agents so that we can predict when and where they are most likely to work, as well as when another control measure may be more appropriate. Registration of biocontrol agents can also be an obstacle. Research in all aspects of biocontrol is needed to provide safe, effective, environmentally benign plant disease control.

Last Modified: 9/22/2014
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