Novel Biological Agents for Controlling Disease and Increasing Yield of Commercial Crops


Background: The question of how to feed the worlds growing population is becoming increasingly important and features highly on the agenda of many countries. By 2050 the population of the world is set to rise to 9 billion people and current food production rates will need to double in order to fulfill the increased demand. One way to deal with this issue is through finding and developing novel approaches to manage pests invasive plant species and disease. It is estimated that between 10-16% of the global harvest is lost due to plant diseases costing an estimated US$220 billion each year. Historically plant diseases have been controlled by chemical formulations but in more recent years it has become clear that the use of these chemicals may have a detrimental and long lasting effect on the environment. Pesticides and fungicides have been linked to a wide range of human health hazards ranging from short-term impacts such as headaches and nausea to chronic impacts like cancer reproductive harm and endocrine disruption. As a result obtaining environmental protection agency (EPA) approval is increasingly more difficult and there is a drive towards more organic methods of farming. Organic farming relies on techniques such as crop rotation and biological control agents (BCAs) such as biofungicides and biofertilizers comprising microbial and fungal preparations. However a very limited number of organisms have been developed for this purpose and there is a critical need to identify more species which are specific to certain crops. Technology Description: Researchers at NCSU have identified Trichoderma and Bacillus species which act as biological control agents (BCAs) against Rhizoctonia spp. and Pythium irregulare two of the key organisms which cause strawberry black root rot (SBRR). Use of these BCAs can result in up to 90% reduction in disease incidence. Additionally research has identified that certain combinations of these isolates can both control disease and promote growth of strawberries and other commercially relevant crops in particular those which suffer from black root rot and other soil borne diseases. Applications: 1) Biofertilizer 2) Bioherbicide


1) Fungal and bacterial species which can be used solely or in combination to promote growth of plants and inhibit the infection of soil borne pathogens 2) Biofertilizer/fungicides reduce the requirement for chemical fertilizer/fungicide treatments which can have harmful effects on the environment. 3) Fungal isolates produce chlamydospores which makes them impervious to environmental challenges producing a product with a longer shelf life.

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