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  • Print publication year: 2019
  • Online publication date: April 2019

2 - Searching for Novel Fungal Biological Control Agents for Plant Disease Control Among Endophytes

from Part II - Role of Endophytes in Growth and Biotic and Abiotic Stress Resistance

Summary

There are increasing efforts aiming to utilise endophytes as biological control agents (BCAs) to improve crop production. However, reliability remains a major practical constraint for the development of novel BCAs. Many organisms are adapted to their specific habitat; it is optimistic to expect that a new organism added can find a niche or even out-compete those adapted and already present. Our approach for isolating novel BCAs for specific plant diseases is therefore to look in healthy plants in a habitat where disease is a problem, since we predict that it is more likely to find competitive strains among those present and adapted. In vitro inhibitory activities often do not correlate with in planta efficacy, especially since endophytes rely on intimate plant contact. They can, however, be useful to indicate modes of action. We therefore screen for in planta biological activity as early as possible in the process in order to minimise the risk of discarding valuable strains. Finally, some fungi are endophytic in one situation and pathogenic in another (the mutualism–parasitism continuum). This depends on their biology, environmental conditions, the formulation of inoculum, the health, developmental stage and cultivar of the host plant, and the structure of the plant microbiome.