Functional peptides for plant disease control

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Plant disease control requires novel approaches to mitigate the spread of and losses caused by current, emerging, and re-emerging diseases and to adapt plant protection to global climate change and the restrictions on the use of conventional pesticides. Currently, disease management relies mainly on biopesticides, which are required for the sustainable use of plant-protection products. Functional peptides are candidate biopesticides because they orig- inate from living organisms or are synthetic analogs and provide novel mechanisms of action against plant pathogens. Hundreds of compounds ex- ist that cover an extensive range of activities against viruses, bacteria and phytoplasmas, fungi and oomycetes, and nematodes. Natural sources, chem- ical synthesis, and biotechnological platforms may provide peptides at large scale for the industry and growers. The main challenges for their use in plant disease protection are (a) the requirement of stability in the plant envi- ronment and counteracting resistance in pathogen populations, (b) the need to develop suitable formulations to increase their shelf life and methods of application, (c) the selection of compounds with acceptable toxicological pro- files, and (d) the high cost of production for agricultural purposes. In the near future, it is expected that several functional peptides will be commer- cially available for plant disease control, but more effort is needed to validate their efficacy at the field level and fulfill the requirements of the regulatory framework ​
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