Bacteria as Biological Control Agents of Plant Diseases

Biological control is an effective and sustainable alternative or complement to conventional pesticides for fungal and bacterial plant disease management. Some of the most intensively studied biological control agents are bacteria that can use multiple mechanisms implicated in the limitation of plant disease development, and several bacterial-based products have been already registered and marketed as biopesticides. However, efforts are still required to increase the commercially available microbial biopesticides. The inconsistency in the performance of bacterial biocontrol agents in the biological control has limited their extensive use in commercial agriculture. Pathosystem factors and environmental conditions have been shown to be key factors involved in the final levels of disease control achieved by bacteria. Several biotic and abiotic factors can influence the performance of the biocontrol agents, affecting their mechanisms of action or the multitrophic interaction between the plant, the pathogen, and the bacteria. This review shows some relevant examples of known bacterial biocontrol agents, with especial emphasis on research carried out by Spanish groups. In addition, the importance of the screening process and of the key steps in the development of bacterial biocontrol agents is highlighted. Besides, some improvement approaches and future trends are considered ​
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