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Front Plant Sci. 2015 Aug 28;6:659. doi: 10.3389/fpls.2015.00659. eCollection 2015.

Controlling weeds with fungi, bacteria and viruses: a review.

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1
Department of Plant Agriculture, University of Guelph , Guelph, ON, Canada.

Abstract

Weeds are a nuisance in a variety of land uses. The increasing prevalence of both herbicide resistant weeds and bans on cosmetic pesticide use has created a strong impetus to develop novel strategies for controlling weeds. The application of bacteria, fungi and viruses to achieving this goal has received increasingly great attention over the last three decades. Proposed benefits to this strategy include reduced environmental impact, increased target specificity, reduced development costs compared to conventional herbicides and the identification of novel herbicidal mechanisms. This review focuses on examples from North America. Among fungi, the prominent genera to receive attention as bioherbicide candidates include Colletotrichum, Phoma, and Sclerotinia. Among bacteria, Xanthomonas and Pseudomonas share this distinction. The available reports on the application of viruses to controlling weeds are also reviewed. Focus is given to the phytotoxic mechanisms associated with bioherbicide candidates. Achieving consistent suppression of weeds in field conditions is a common challenge to this control strategy, as the efficacy of a bioherbicide candidate is generally more sensitive to environmental variation than a conventional herbicide. Common themes and lessons emerging from the available literature in regard to this challenge are presented. Additionally, future directions for this crop protection strategy are suggested.

KEYWORDS:

Colletotrichum; Phoma; Pseudomonas; Sclerotinia; Xanthomonas; bioherbicide; herbicide resistance; turf

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