Since the discovery of penicillin in 1928 and throughout the 'age of antibiotics' from the 1940s until the 1980s, the detection of novel antibiotics was restricted by lack of knowledge about the distribution and ecology of antibiotic producers in nature. The discovery that a phenazine compound produced by Pseudomonas bacteria could suppress soilborne plant pathogens, and its recovery from rhizosphere soil in 1990, provided the first incontrovertible evidence that natural metabolites could control plant pathogens in the environment and opened a new era in biological control by root-associated rhizobacteria. More recently, the advent of genomics, the availability of highly sensitive bioanalytical instrumentation, and the discovery of protective endophytes have accelerated progress toward overcoming many of the impediments that until now have limited the exploitation of beneficial plant-associated microbes to enhance agricultural sustainability. Here, we present key developments that have established the importance of these microbes in the control of pathogens, discuss concepts resulting from the exploration of classical model systems, and highlight advances emerging from ongoing investigations. © 2019 Society of Chemical Industry.
Keywords: endophyte; holobiont; microbial metabolites; plant growth-promoting rhizobacteria.
© 2019 Society of Chemical Industry.