Introduction

Miracle Farm Blueprint

Organic Farming Manual

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Plant diseases, caused primarily by fungal and bacterial pathogens, produce severe losses to agricultural and horticultural crops every year. These losses can result in reduced food supplies, poorer quality agricultural products, economic hardship for growers and processors, and, ultimately, higher prices. For many diseases, traditional chemical control methods are not always economical nor are they effective, and fumigation as well as other chemical control methods may have unwanted health, safety, and environmental risks. Biological control involves the use of beneficial microorganisms to attack and control plant pathogens and the diseases they cause. It offers an environmentally friendly approach to the management of plant disease and can be integrated into an effective integrated disease management system. Thus, biological control can be an important component in the development of a more sustainable agriculture.

Trichoderma species have been investigated as biological control agents for over 70 years, but it is only relatively recently that strains have become commercially available. The previous considerations have stimulated researchers to gain a better knowledge of biocontrol by this fungus, and to understand their mechanisms of control. In view of the actuality of this research field, there are numerous recent articles available which review the current state of knowledge of Trichoderma biocontrol (Chet et al. 1998; Harman and Bjorkman 1998; Hjeljord and Tronsmo 1998; Monte 2001 see also the atricle by A. Herrera-Estrella and I. Chet, this volume). In this article, the current state of biological knowledge on Trichoderma strains capable of biocontrol on a molecular level will be summarized.

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