Submitted to: Plant Microbe Interactions and Biological Control
Publication Type: Book / Chapter
Publication Acceptance Date: April 1, 1996
Publication Date: N/A
Technical Abstract: Literally thousands of potential biocontrol agents have been identified during research that has spanned the last 80 years. 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. In today's regulatory environment, the development of a microbial pest control agent for registration is estimated to cost $5 million and take 3 years, compared with $40-80 million and 8-12 years for a chemical pesticide. Despite environmental incentives and strong efforts, the 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. The fermentation, formulation, and preservation process technologies needed to accommodate cost-effective commercial production of reliable biocontrol agents are still in the infant stages of research and development. Successful advancement of these interdependent technologies will require consideration of how changes in each process step influence the end product. This chapter focuses on the fermentation process and how it influences biocontrol agent performance and strategies for formulation and preservation.