Submitted to: Meeting Abstract
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: July 15, 1996
Publication Date: N/A
Technical Abstract: Literally thousands of potential biocontrol agents have been isolated during research that has spanned the last 80 years, yet only a few have been developed for commercial use. Recently, public health and safety concerns about the environmental impact of chemical pesticide usage have resulted in increased attention to biological control as a more natural means of maintaining crop health. Despite environmental incentives and strong efforts, commercialization of biocontrol agents has been slow to evolve partly because of the momentum of the chemical industry and the economic inequity between biological and chemical production processes. While fermentation processes tend to be more expensive than synthetic chemical processes, there is good opportunity for niche market success especially with biocontrol agents that have no cost-effective chemical competitor. Given the market demand, the means of supply has become the primary bottleneck. Distinguishing them from traditional fermentation products, biocontrol agents must not only be produced in high yield but must also meet the following quality criteria: high (near 100%) retention of cell viability with maintenance of crop compatibility and bioefficacy during several months of storage. Experimental results demonstrating the impact of liquid culture environment, physiological state, and metabolite production on biocontrol agent quality will be reviewed for Pseudomonas fluorescens 2-79, a bacterial antagonist of "take-all," an important root disease of wheat. The development of liquid culture-based screens for selecting commercially useful biocontrol agents will also be discussed relative to bacterial antagonists of Fusarium dry rot of stored potatoes.