In agriculture, the prevention and treatment of bacterial infections represents an increasing challenge. Traditional (chemical) methods have been restricted to ensure public health and to limit the occurrence of resistant strains. Bacteriophages could be a sustainable alternative. A major hurdle towards the commercial implementation of phage-based biocontrol strategies concerns aspects of regulation and intellectual property protection. Within this study, two datasets have been composed to analyze both scientific publications and patent documents and to get an idea on the focus of research and development (R&D) by means of an abstract and claim analysis. A total of 137 papers and 49 patent families were found from searching public databases, with their numbers increasing over time. Within this dataset, the majority of the patent documents were filed by non-profit organizations in Asia. There seems to be a good correlation between the papers and patent documents in terms of targeted bacterial genera. Furthermore, granted patents seem to claim rather broad and cover methods of treatment. This review shows that there is indeed growing publishing and patenting activity concerning phage biocontrol. Targeted research is needed to further stimulate the exploration of phages within integrated pest management strategies and to deal with bacterial infections in crop production.
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