European Journal of Plant Pathology

, Volume 101, Issue 6, pp 585–599 | Cite as

The potential for using cyanobacteria (blue-green algae) and algae in the biological control of plant pathogenic bacteria and fungi

  • Martin M. Kulik
Mini Review


Cyanobacteria (blue-green algae) and eukaryote algae occur in freshwater, marine, and terrestrial (soil) habitats. In fact, these microorganisms comprise most of the world's biomass. Although the cyanobacteria are mostly photoautotrophic, some are facultative heterotrophs, capable of growing on certain substrates in darkness. Also, some are non-phototrophic and hence, are obligate heterotrophs. A number of cyanobacteria and eukaryote algae, particularly macroalgae, produce various, biologically active compounds. These include antibiotics which in laboratory tests inhibited bacteria and fungi that incite diseases of humans. In addition, the following fungi which are of interest to plant pathologists, were inhibitedin vitro by substances produced by various cyanobacteria: The saprophytesChaetomium globosum, Cunninghamella blakesleeana, andAspergillus oryzae and the plant pathogensRhizoctonia solani andSclerotinia sclerotiorum. Extracts from seaweeds (macroalgae) sprayed on plants have been reported to reduce the incidence ofBotrytis cinerea (gray mold) on strawberries,Erysiphe polygoni (powdery mildew) on turnips, and damping-off of tomato seedlings. Because many cyanobacteria and algae produce a large number of antibacterial and antifungal materials, are almost never a threat to the environment, and many can be grown in quantity in mass culture, they are suitable candidates for exploitation as biocontrol agents of plant pathogenic bacteria and fungi. Much additional work remains to be done however, to thoroughly evaluate cyanobacteria and algae and their products for this role.

Key words

damping-off fungi foliar and soilborne plant pathogens antibiotics anti-bacterial compounds antifungal compounds seaweeds 


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Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 1995

Authors and Affiliations

  • Martin M. Kulik
    • 1
  1. 1.Soybean and Alfalfa Research Laboratory, Agricultural Research ServiceUnited States Department of AgricultureBeltsvilleUSA

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