Methods for selecting hypervirulent biocontrol agents of weeds: why and how

Pest Manag Sci. 2009 May;65(5):581-7. doi: 10.1002/ps.1739.


A considerable number of plant pathogens have been studied for their possible use in weed control. Some have proven virulent enough to control weed species and to compete commercially with chemical herbicides. However, most pathogens of weeds are not useful in their wild form because they are not sufficiently host-specific and/or virulent. The authors believe that these barriers can be overcome. The present research has focused on the inhibitory effects of certain amino acids on the growth and development of specific plants. Pathogens that overproduce these selected amino acids can be easily selected from a pool of spontaneous mutants. Such mutants can have increased pathogenicity to their target weed and enhanced field performance as biocontrol agents. Enhancement of biocontrol efficacy in three separate pathogen-host systems, two with Fusarium and one with Pseudomonas, has already been reported. It is proposed to use the same technology to enhance the biocontrol efficacy of the two species of Fusarium that are host-specific pathogens of the broomrape group of parasitic weeds. The stepwise approach outlined can lead to obtaining enhanced biocontrol agents capable of producing inhibitory levels of selected amino acids in situ. It is proposed that these approaches, in combination with other methods of virulence enhancement, will lead to sustainable systems of biological control of parasitic weeds.

Publication types

  • Evaluation Study
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Amino Acids / metabolism
  • Amino Acids / pharmacology
  • Fusarium / metabolism
  • Fusarium / pathogenicity*
  • Genetic Techniques*
  • Host-Pathogen Interactions
  • Microbiological Techniques*
  • Orobanche / drug effects
  • Orobanche / metabolism
  • Orobanche / microbiology*
  • Pest Control, Biological
  • Plant Diseases / microbiology*
  • Pseudomonas / metabolism
  • Pseudomonas / pathogenicity*
  • Virulence


  • Amino Acids