Plant growth-promoting rhizobacteria (PGPR) associated with plant roots can trigger plant growth promotion and induced systemic resistance. Several bacterial determinants including cell-wall components and secreted compounds have been identified to date. Here, we review a group of low-molecular-weight volatile compounds released by PGPR, which improve plant health, mostly by protecting plants against pathogen attack under greenhouse and field conditions. We particularly focus on C4 bacterial volatile compounds (BVCs), such as 2,3-butanediol and acetoin, which have been shown to activate the plant immune response and to promote plant growth at the molecular level as well as in large-scale field applications. We also disc/ uss the potential applications, metabolic engineering, and large-scale fermentation of C4 BVCs. The C4 bacterial volatiles act as airborne signals and therefore represent a new type of biocontrol agent. Further advances in the encapsulation procedure, together with the development of standards and guidelines, will promote the application of C4 volatiles in the field.
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