Multicellular behaviour and production of a wide variety of toxic substances support usage of Bacillus subtilis as a powerful biocontrol agent
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Intensive cultivation of plants in the monoculture field system in order to feed the continuously growing human population creates a need for their protection from the variety of natural competitors such as: bacteria, fungi, insects as well as other plants. The increase in the use of chemical substances in the 20th century has brought many effective solutions for the agriculture. However, it was extremely difficult to obtain a substance, which would be directed solely against a specific plant pathogen and would not be harmful for the environment. In the late 1900's scientists began trying to use natural antagonisms between resident soil organism to protect plants. This phenomenon was named biocontrol. Biological control of plants by microorganisms is a very promising alternative to an extended use of pesticides, which are often expensive and accumulate in plants or soil, having adverse effects on humans. Nonpathogenic soil bacteria living in association with roots of higher plants enhance their adaptive potential and, moreover, they can be beneficial for their growth. Here, we present the current status of the use of Bacillus subtilis in biocontrol. This prevalent inhabitant of soil is widely recognized as a powerful biocontrol agent. Naturally present in the immediate vicinity of plant roots, B. subtilis is able to maintain stable contact with higher plants and promote their growth. In addition, due to its broad host range, its ability to form endospores and produce different biologically active compounds with a broad spectrum of activity, B. subtilis as well as other Bacilli are potentially useful as biocontrol agents.
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