Status Of Bioherbicides

Several recent reviews have provided an overview on various bioherbicide projects being conducted around the globe (Boyetchko 1999; Boyetchko et al. 2002; Charudattan 2001; Rosskopf et al. 1999). Eight bioherbicides have been registered in various countries over the last two decades with several other microbial candidates in various stages of evaluation and development (Table 1). Devine® and Collego®, the first mycoherbicides registered in the United States are currently marketed by Encore Technologies (Minnetonka, MN), while Stumpout®, a wood-decaying fungus used to control resprouting of Acacia spp., is commercially available in South Africa. Chondrostereum purpureum is a wound pathogen that reduces regrowth of competing hardwood tree species and is marketed as BioChon™ by Koppert Biological Systems in the Netherlands. A Canadian strain of the pathogen is also currently undergoing registration approval through the Canadian Pest Management Regulatory Agency and U.S. EPA and will be sold as Chontrol® by MycoLogic (W.E. Hintz, MycoLogic, Inc., personal communication). Another mycoherbicide

Table 1 Examples of mycoherbicide agents at various stages of development and commercialization

Status Pathogen (Trade Name ® or ™) Target weed Country

Commercially available C. gloeosporioides f. sp. aeschynomene (Collego®) Northern Jointvetch USA

P. palmivora (Devine®) Stranglervine USA

C. laeve (Stumpout®) Black & golden wattle South Africa

C. purpureum (BioChon™) Hardwood tree species Netherlands

Registered, not commercially available C. gloeosporioides f. sp. malvae (Mallet WP)a Round-leaved mallow Canada, USA

P. canaliculata (Dr. Biosedge®) Nutsedges USA

Precommercial development C. purpureum (Chontrol®) Hardwood tree species Canada, USA

A. destruens (Smolder®) Dodder USA

a Originally registered in Canada as BioMal® by Philom Bios; licensed to Encore Technology for registration as Mallet WP in Canada and the United States. Mycoherbicide not being further developed due to technical difficulties in mass production.

currently undergoing review is Alternaría destruens, under the name Smolder®, for control of dodder. Other examples of mycoherbicides have been discussed in greater detail by Boyetchko (1999), Boyetchko et al. (2002), and Rosskopf et al. (1999). Charudattan (2001) has also compiled a comprehensive list of bioherbicide projects worldwide. While the number of commercial bioherbicides appears to be limited, Charudattan (1991) calculated a success ratio of 20:1 for bioherbicide development compared to the success rate of less than 1% for chemical herbicide compounds evaluated and developed by chemical companies. This success ratio begins to look even more encouraging for bioherbicides when developmental costs are taken into consideration. Charudattan (2001) estimated that the resources and capital required for a chemical company to conduct research and development and register chemical herbicides is approximately US$ 50 million in comparison to US$2 million for bioherbicides. Nevertheless, a very small portion (i.e., less than 1%) of the commercially available weed control products are represented by bioherbicides and investment in these microbial-based products has largely been by small-to-medium sized enterprises. Government and university institutions have invested infrastructure and expertise in this area and it has been through such efforts that this technology has been transferred to industry.

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