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Appl Environ Microbiol. 2004 Jun;70(6):3313-20.

Evaluation of Nostoc strain ATCC 53789 as a potential source of natural pesticides.

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Dipartimento di Biotecnologie Agrarie, Università degli Studi di Firenze, Florence, Italy.


The cyanobacterium Nostoc strain ATCC 53789, a known cryptophycin producer, was tested for its potential as a source of natural pesticides. The antibacterial, antifungal, insecticidal, nematocidal, and cytotoxic activities of methanolic extracts of the cyanobacterium were evaluated. Among the target organisms, nine fungi (Armillaria sp., Fusarium oxysporum f. sp. melonis, Penicillium expansum, Phytophthora cambivora, P. cinnamomi, Rhizoctonia solani, Rosellinia, sp., Sclerotinia sclerotiorum, and Verticillium albo-atrum) were growth inhibited and one insect (Helicoverpa armigera) was killed by the extract, as well as the two model organisms for nematocidal (Caenorhabditis elegans) and cytotoxic (Artemia salina) activity. No antibacterial activity was detected. The antifungal activity against S. sclerotiorum was further studied with both extracts and biomass of the cyanobacterium in a system involving tomato as a host plant. Finally, the herbicidal activity of Nostoc strain ATCC 53789 was evaluated against a grass mixture. To fully exploit the potential of this cyanobacterium in agriculture as a source of pesticides, suitable application methods to overcome its toxicity toward plants and nontarget organisms must be developed.

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