, Volume 114, Issue 3, pp 329-341

Biological Control of Plant Diseases: The European Situation

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Abstract

The most common approach to biological control consists of selecting antagonistic microorganisms, studying their modes of action and developing a biological control product. Despite progress made in the knowledge of the modes of action of these biological control agents (BCAs), practical application often fails to control disease in the fields. One of the reasons explaining this failure is that the bio-control product is used the same way as a chemical product. Being biological these products have to be applied in accordance with their ecological requirements. Another approach consists of induction of plant defence reactions. This can be done by application of natural substances produced by or extracted from microorganisms, plants, or algae. Since they do not aim at killing the pathogens, these methods of disease control are totally different from chemical control. Although promising, these methods have not been sufficiently implemented under field conditions. A third approach consists of choosing cultural practices that might decrease the incidence or severity of diseases. These methods include the choice of an appropriate crop rotation with management of the crop residues, application of organic amendments and the use of new technology such as the biological disinfestation of soils. Biological control practices need an integrative approach, and more knowledge than chemical control.