Submitted to: Mountaineer Grower
Publication Type: Popular Publication
Publication Acceptance Date: April 4, 2009
Publication Date: June 6, 2009
Citation: Janisiewicz, W.J. 2009. Future prospects for biological control of postharvest diseases. Mountaineer Grower. 569: 1-26 Technical Abstract: This article reflects the current research and future prospects in the area of biological control of postharvest diseases (BCPD) of fruits. During the past decade, not only research interest in BCPD grew, which is reflected in a number of publications, but the use of the pioneering product Bio-save expanded from pome and citrus fruit to cherries, potatoes, and to sweet potatoes. Three new biological control products were registered in Europe last year for the control of postharvest diseases of apples. A few years earlier, one product was registered in Israel for the control of decays on various fruits. As postharvest biocontrol products are coming to the market, their anticipated limitations are becoming apparent and much of the current research is focused on addressing these limitations. Combining antagonists with various substances Generally Regarded as Safe (GRASS) such as sodium bicarbonate, calcium chloride, diluted ethanol, or with physical treatments such as heat or UV irradiation are typical examples of approaches being used. A mixture of two compatible biocontrol agents often showed an additive or synergistic effect in controlling fruit decays. Biocontrol agents developed for the control of fruit decays have also been shown to inhibit growth of foodborne human pathogens. This aspect gains in importance, as new outbreaks are reported with increasing frequency, and fresh cut fruit and vegetables are particularly vulnerable to the colonization by foodborne pathogens. Biocontrol agents can also control decays originating from wounds made during mechanical harvesting of fruits. Currently, available biocontrol products were developed for the control of decays originating from infection of fruit wounds; however, research is in progress to develop the next generation of biocontrol products that control latent infections, which are invisible during harvest, but develop on otherwise sound fruit in the storage. This research requires broadening the pool of microorganisms screened for biological control activity to include, in addition to those occurring naturally on fruit, microorganisms from different plants and plant parts, as well as micro-organisms from different habitats.