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Improving Biological Control by Combining Biocontrol Agents Each with Several Mechanisms of Disease Suppression

September 2002 , Volume 92 , Number  9
Pages  976 - 985

Ruth Guetsky , D. Shtienberg , Y. Elad , E. Fischer , and A. Dinoor

First, second, and third authors: Department of Plant Pathology, ARO, The Volcani Center, Bet Dagan 50250; fourth author: Institute of Soil and Water, ARO, The Volcani Center, Bet Dagan 50250; and first and fifth authors: Department of Plant Pathology and Microbiology, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Faculty of Agricultural, Food and Environmental Quality Sciences, Rehovot 76100 Israel

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Accepted for publication 28 April 2002.

Two biocontrol agents, a yeast (Pichia guilermondii) and a bacterium (Bacillus mycoides), were tested separately and together for suppression of Botrytis cinerea on strawberry leaves and plants. Scanning electron microscopy revealed significant inhibition of Botrytis cinerea conidial germination in the presence of Pichia guilermondii, whereas Bacillus mycoides caused breakage and destruction of conidia. When both biocontrol agents were applied in a mixture, conidial destruction was more severe. The modes of action of each of the biocontrol agents were elucidated and the relative quantitative contribution of each mechanism to suppression of Botrytis cinerea was estimated using multiple regression with dummy variables. The improvement in control efficacy achieved by introducing one or more mechanisms at a time was calculated. Pichia guilermondii competed with Botrytis cinerea for glucose, sucrose, adenine, histidine, and folic acid. Viability of the yeast cells played a crucial role in suppression of Botrytis cinerea and they secreted an inhibitory compound that had an acropetal effect and was not volatile. Bacillus mycoides did not compete for any of the sugars, amino acids, or vitamins examined at a level that would affect Botrytis cinerea development. Viable cells and the compounds secreted by them contributed similarly to Botrytis cinerea suppression. The bacteria secreted volatile and non-volatile inhibitory compounds and activated the defense systems of the host. The nonvolatile compounds had both acropetal and basipetal effects. Mixture of Pichia guilermondii and Bacillus mycoides resulted in additive activity compared with their separate application. The combined activity was due to the summation of biocontrol mechanisms of both agents. This work provides a theoretical explanation for our previous findings of reduced disease control variability with a mixture of Pichia guilermondii and Bacillus mycoides.

Additional keyword: gray mold.

The American Phytopathological Society, 2002