From Discovery to Use: Traversing the World of Commercializing Biocontrol Agents for Plant Disease Control
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Microorganisms play an enormously important role in plant disease control. As naturally occurring resident antagonists, they can be managed or exploited to achieve the desired results. They are responsible for the “crop rotation effect,” which is possibly still the single most important disease management tool used worldwide. On the other hand, the addition of organic materials such as compost, barnyard manure, and green manure is known to intensify the soil-sanitizing benefits of resident antagonists so much that it is sometimes possible to eliminate the need for crop rotation. Entomology is commonly used as the standard for success with biological control agents introduced into the environment. Compared case-for-case, plant pathology is a barely-visible distant second to entomology. In fact, we would have to say it is a distant third, since there are more successful cases with introduced biological control agents of weeds—herbivorous insects and pathogens—than of plant diseases. On the other hand, if we narrow the comparison to biological control with introduced micro-organisms, plant pathology begins to look quite respectable. Examples of biological control sparked the current and much more successful effort with plant-associated microorganisms as agents introduced for biological control of plant pathogens.
Mathre, D. E., Cook, R. J. and Callan, N. W. 1999. From discovery to use: traversing the world of commercializing biocontrol agents for plant disease control. Plant Disease 83:972-83.