PGPR: Prospective Biocontrol Agents of Plant Pathogens

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Plant growth promoting rhizobacteria (PGPR) are indigenous to soil and the plant rhizosphere and play a major role in the biocontrol of plant pathogens. PGPR can profoundly improve seed germination, root development and water utilization by plants. These rhizobacteria can stimulate plant growth directly by producing growth hormones and improving nutrient uptake or indirectly by changing microbial balance in the rhizosphere in favour of beneficial microorganisms. They can suppress a broad spectrum of bacterial, fungal and nematode diseases. PGPR can also provide protection against viral diseases. The use of PGPR has become a common practice in many regions of the world. Although significant control of plant pathogens has been demonstrated by PGPR in laboratory and greenhouse studies, results in the field have been inconsistent. Recent progress in our understanding of their diversity, colonizing ability, mechanisms of action, formulation and application should facilitate their development as reliable biocontrol agents against plant pathogens. Some of these rhizobacteria may also be used in integrated pest management programmes. Greater application of PGPR is possible in agriculture for biocontrol of plant pathogens and biofertilization.