Improved Persistence of Bacteriophage Formulation with Nano N-Acetylcysteine-Zinc Sulfide and Tomato Bacterial Spot Disease Control

Plant Dis. 2023 Dec;107(12):3933-3942. doi: 10.1094/PDIS-02-23-0255-RE. Epub 2023 Dec 13.


Bacteriophages are biocontrol agents used to manage bacterial diseases. They have long been used against plant pathogenic bacteria; however, several factors impede their use as a reliable disease management strategy. Short-lived persistence on plant surfaces under field conditions results mainly from rapid degradation by exposure to ultraviolet (UV) light. Currently, there are no effective commercial formulations that protect phages from UV. The phage ΦXp06-02-1, which lyses strains of the tomato bacterial spot pathogen Xanthomonas perforans, was mixed with different concentrations of the nanomaterial N-acetylcysteine surface-coated manganese-doped zinc sulfide (NAC-ZnS; 3.5 nm). In vitro, NAC-ZnS at 10,000 μg/ml formulated phage, when exposed to UV for 1 min, provided statistically equivalent plaque-forming unit (PFU) recovery as phages that were not exposed to UV. NAC-ZnS had no negative effect on the phage's ability to lyse bacterial cells under in vitro conditions. NAC-ZnS reduced phage degradation over time in comparison with the nontreated control, whereas N-acetylcysteine-zinc oxide (NAC-ZnO) had no effect. In fluorescent light, without UV exposure, NAC-ZnO-formulated phages were more infective than NAC-ZnS-formulated phages. The nanomaterial-phage mixture did not cause any phytotoxicity when applied to tomato plants. Following exposure to sunlight, the NAC-ZnS formulation improved phage persistence in the phyllosphere by 15 times compared with nonformulated phages. NAC-ZnO-formulated phage populations were undetectable within 32 h, whereas NAC-ZnS-formulated phage populations were detected at 103 PFU/g. At 4 h of sunlight exposure, NAC-ZnS-formulated phages at 1,000 μg/ml significantly reduced tomato bacterial spot disease severity by 16.4% compared with nonformulated phages. These results suggest that NAC-ZnS can be used to improve the efficacy of phages for bacterial diseases.

Keywords: Xanthomonas; bacteria; bacteriophage; biocontrol; disease control; nanomaterial.

MeSH terms

  • Acetylcysteine / pharmacology
  • Bacteria
  • Bacterial Infections*
  • Bacteriophages*
  • Solanum lycopersicum*
  • Zinc Oxide*


  • Acetylcysteine
  • zinc sulfide
  • Zinc Oxide