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ARS Home » Midwest Area » Peoria, Illinois » National Center for Agricultural Utilization Research » Crop Bioprotection Research » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #236360

Title: The Development and Use of Microbial Biocontrol Agents for Agricultural Pests

item Jackson, Mark

Submitted to: USDA Mexico International Workshop on Agricultural Biotechnology
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: 2/27/2009
Publication Date: 2/27/2009
Citation: Jackson, M.A. 2009. The Development and Use of Microbial Biocontrol Agents for Agricultural Pests [abstract]. USDA Mexico International Workshop on Agricultural Biotechnology. Abstract J-2.

Interpretive Summary:

Technical Abstract: The idea of using microbial pathogens of agronomic pests as a method of biological control dates back to the 19th century. Two approaches to biological control have been employed: the “classical” and the “inundative” approach. The classical approach to biocontrol is generally practiced on public or low-value lands where introduced “invasive” weedy plants or insects have become pest problems due to the lack of natural pathogens and predators. Co-evolved, natural pathogens of the pest are introduced into the pest population with the hope that a host-pathogen relationship develops which keeps the pest in check. The “inundative” or “biopesticide” approach mimics chemical control practices in that massive quantities of specific, aggressive pathogens or antagonists of the pest are applied as needed for the control of targeted agronomic pest. The loss of chemical control measures and public concerns over the wide-spread use of chemical pesticides has piqued commercial interest in the development of the biopesticide approach to pest control. Bacteria, fungi, and viruses are all used to control insects, weeds, and plant diseases. The use of bacterial biocontrol agents for the control of insects, plant pathogens, and weeds is based principally on the ability of selected bacterial strains to produce specific antimicrobial, insecticidal, or herbicidal compounds. Unlike bacterial biocontrol agents, most fungal biopesticides do not produce toxins to kill their pest host. Fungi possess the unique ability to actively infect, colonize, and kill their host. The selection of the appropriate biocontrol agent for a given pest is dependent on the biology of the pest-pathogen interaction. This lecture will provide an overview of the development and use of augmentative microbial biocontrol agents and identify required characteristics for their commercial use.