National Center for Agricultural Utilization Research (NCAUR), U.S. Department of Agriculture-Agricultural Research Service, Peoria, IL 61604
Maximizing the potential for successfully developing and deploying a biocontrol product begins with a carefully crafted microbial screening procedure, proceeds with developing mass production protocols that optimize product quantity and quality, and ends with devising a product formulation that preserves shelf-life, aids product delivery, and enhances bioactivity. Microbial selection procedures that require prospective bio-control agents to possess both efficacy and amenability to production in liquid culture increase the likelihood of selecting agents with enhanced commercial development potential. Scale-up of biomass production procedures must optimize product quantity without compromise of product efficacy or amenability to stabilization and formulation. Formulation of Bacillus spp. for use against plant pathogens is an enormous topic in general terms but limited in published specifics regarding formulations used in commercially available products. Types of formulations include dry products such as wettable powders, dusts, and granules, and liquid products including cell suspensions in water, oils, and emulsions. Cells can also be microencapsulated. Considerations critical to designing successful formulations of microbial biomass are many fold and include preserving biomass viability during stabilization, drying, and rehydration; aiding biomass delivery, target coverage, and target adhesion; and enhancing biomass survival and efficacy after delivery to the target. Solutions to these formulation considerations will not necessarily be compatible. Data from several biocontrol systems including the use of B. subtilis OH 131.1 (NRRL B-30212) to reduce Fusarium head blight of wheat are used to illustrate many of these issues. Using our recently described assay for efficiently evaluating biomass production and formulation protocols, we demonstrate the effectiveness, in vitro, of UV protectant compounds lignin (PC 1307) and Blankophor BBH in reducing OH 131.1 morbidity when cells were exposed to UV light from artificial sunlight.