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Int J Microbiol. 2012;2012:326452. doi: 10.1155/2012/326452. Epub 2012 Aug 13.

Advances in bacteriophage-mediated control of plant pathogens.

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  • 1Department of Microbiology & Immunology, University of Otago, P.O. Box 56, Dunedin 9054, New Zealand.


There is continuing pressure to maximise food production given a growing global human population. Bacterial pathogens that infect important agricultural plants (phytopathogens) can reduce plant growth and the subsequent crop yield. Currently, phytopathogens are controlled through management programmes, which can include the application of antibiotics and copper sprays. However, the emergence of resistant bacteria and the desire to reduce usage of toxic products that accumulate in the environment mean there is a need to develop alternative control agents. An attractive option is the use of specific bacteriophages (phages), viruses that specifically kill bacteria, providing a more targeted approach. Typically, phages that target the phytopathogen are isolated and characterised to determine that they have features required for biocontrol. In addition, suitable formulation and delivery to affected plants are necessary to ensure the phages survive in the environment and do not have a deleterious effect on the plant or target beneficial bacteria. Phages have been isolated for different phytopathogens and have been used successfully in a number of trials and commercially. In this paper, we address recent progress in phage-mediated control of plant pathogens and overcoming the challenges, including those posed by CRISPR/Cas and abortive infection resistance systems.

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