Special Issue "Weaponizing Plants: Biocontrol and Biosecurity in Plant Protection"

A special issue of Plants (ISSN 2223-7747). This special issue belongs to the section "Plant Protection and Biotic Interactions".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: 31 December 2021.

Special Issue Editors

Prof. Dr. Francesca Degola
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
1. Department of Chemistry, Life Sciences and Environmental Sustainability, University of Parma, Parma, Italy
2. Department of Veterinary Sciences, University of Parma, Parma, Italy
Interests: plant physiology and pathology; mycotoxins; plant extracts; antifungals and biopesticides
Special Issues, Collections and Topics in MDPI journals
Prof. Giovanna Visioli
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Department of Chemistry, Life Sciences and Environmental Sustainability, University of Parma, Parma, Italy
Interests: interaction between plants and soil microorganisms; possible applications of PGPR as biofertilizers and biocontrol agents
Dr. Agnieszka Jamiołkowska
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Department of Plant Protection, University of Life Sciences in Lublin, Lublin, Poland
Interests: plant pathogens; biological control; plant–pathogen interactions; plant resistance elicitors
Special Issues, Collections and Topics in MDPI journals
Dr. Izabela Kot
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Department of Plant Protection, University of Life Sciences in Lublin, Lublin, Poland
Interests: applied entomology; galling insects; insect–plant interactions; pest management; insect diversity

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Climate change, plants and human health are closely linked, since the environment, plant health and food safety are parts of the same system. In fact, crop yield and plant products quality are, directly or indirectly, affected by climate alterations. Adverse climatic conditions often promote the occurrence of different abiotic stresses, which can have the effect of reducing or enhancing susceptibility to biotic stresses (pests or pathogens). The agricultural productivity challenges, posed by the climate change, can be overcome by innovation systems and farming practice; on the other hand, reducing the impact of noxious substances and controlling the stress conditions on plants has become imperative. Innovative bioprotection strategies, as well as the biological control of crop pests, is the new frontier for the sustainable future of plant health, demanding emerging technologies which facilitate the understanding and exploitation of the mechanisms involved. This Special Issue aims to collect the most updated insights and experimental developments intended to increase plants’ health and biosecurity. Original research papers and reviews describing agronomic practices, traditional breeding, bioinformatics, biological control agents (such as beneficial microorganisms or competitors), plant resistance against pests and pathogens, direct or indirect antagonistic interaction with the pathogen (or competition for nutrients and space), hyperparasitism or antibiosis, and the production/regulation of secondary metabolites with biocontrol activity (or supporting antagonists to gain a competitive advantage), are encouraged and welcomed. A particular attention to the plant standpoint is highly recommended.

Prof. Dr. Francesca Degola
Prof. Giovanna Visioli
Dr. Agnieszka Jamiołkowska
Dr. Izabela Kot
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All papers will be peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Plants is an international peer-reviewed open access monthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 1800 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • plant health
  • plant protection
  • plant disease and pest biocontrol strategies
  • biocontrol agents
  • beneficial microorganisms
  • plant biostimulants
  • plant stress alleviation
  • sustainable plant health enhancers
  • plant growth promoters
  • plant resistance elicitors
  • biopesticides
  • plant biosecurity

Published Papers (6 papers)

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Research

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Article
Nutrient Status of Cucumber Plants Affects Powdery Mildew (Podosphaera xanthii)
Plants 2021, 10(10), 2216; https://doi.org/10.3390/plants10102216 - 19 Oct 2021
Viewed by 417
Abstract
We examined the effects of applications of N, P, K, Mg, and Ca through an irrigation solution and spraying K, Ca, and Mg salts on cucumber powdery mildew (CPM, Podosphaera xanthii) in potted plants and under commercial-like conditions. Spraying CaCl2 and [...] Read more.
We examined the effects of applications of N, P, K, Mg, and Ca through an irrigation solution and spraying K, Ca, and Mg salts on cucumber powdery mildew (CPM, Podosphaera xanthii) in potted plants and under commercial-like conditions. Spraying CaCl2 and MgCl2, or KCl and K2SO4, decreased CPM. There were significant negative correlations between the anion-related molar concentrations of the salts and disease severity. Among the sprayed treatments, NaCl provided significantly less CPM control when applied at a low (0.05 M) concentration, as compared with CaCl2 and MgCl2. When sprayed applications of Mg and K salts were analyzed separately from the untreated control, the Cl salts were found to be more effective than the SO4−2 salts. High N and Mg concentrations in the irrigation water delivered to young, fruit-less cucumber plants reduced CPM, whereas more CPM was observed when the irrigation solution contained a medium amount of P and a high amount of K. In contrast, mature, fruit-bearing plants had less severe CPM at higher N, lower P, and higher K levels. Spraying mature plants with monopotassium phosphate, polyhalite (K2Ca2Mg(SO4)4·2H2O), and the salts mentioned above over an entire growing season suppressed CPM. CPM severity was also reduced by spray applications of Ca, Mg, and KSO4−2 and Cl salts. Spray applications provided better CPM control than fertigation treatments. Induced resistance is probably involved in the effects of nutrients on CPM. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Weaponizing Plants: Biocontrol and Biosecurity in Plant Protection)
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Article
Effects of Microelements on Downy Mildew (Peronospora belbahrii) of Sweet Basil
Plants 2021, 10(9), 1793; https://doi.org/10.3390/plants10091793 - 28 Aug 2021
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 535
Abstract
We recently demonstrated that spraying or irrigating with Ca, Mg and K reduces the severity of sweet basil downy mildew (SBDM). Here, the effects of Mn, Zn, Cu and Fe on SBDM were tested in potted plants. The effects of Mn and Zn [...] Read more.
We recently demonstrated that spraying or irrigating with Ca, Mg and K reduces the severity of sweet basil downy mildew (SBDM). Here, the effects of Mn, Zn, Cu and Fe on SBDM were tested in potted plants. The effects of Mn and Zn were also tested under semi-commercial and commercial-like field conditions. Spray applications of a mixture of EDTA-chelated microelements (i.e., Fe-EDTA, Mn-EDTA, Zn-EDTA, Cu-EDTA and Mo) reduces SBDM severity. The application of EDTA chelates of individual microelements (i.e., Fe-EDTA, Mn-EDTA and Zn-EDTA) significantly reduces SBDM in potted plants. Foliar applications of Mn-EDTA and Zn-EDTA are found to be effective under semi-commercial conditions and were, thus, further tested under commercial-like conditions. Under commercial-like conditions, foliar-applied Mn-EDTA and Zn-EDTA decreased SBDM severity by 46–71%. When applied through the irrigation solution, those two microelements reduce SBDM by more than 50%. Combining Mg with Mn-EDTA and Zn-EDTA in the irrigation solution does not provide any additional disease reduction. In the commercial-like field experiment, the microelement-mixture treatment, applied as a spray or via the irrigation solution, was combined with fungicides spray treatments. This combination provides synergistic disease control. The mode of action in this plant–pathogen system may involve features of altered host resistance. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Weaponizing Plants: Biocontrol and Biosecurity in Plant Protection)
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Article
The Endophytic Pseudomonas sp. S57 for Plant-Growth Promotion and the Biocontrol of Phytopathogenic Fungi and Nematodes
Plants 2021, 10(8), 1531; https://doi.org/10.3390/plants10081531 - 27 Jul 2021
Viewed by 742
Abstract
Oregano from Socoroma (Atacama Desert) is characterized by its unique organoleptic properties and distinctive flavor and it is produced using ancestral pesticide-free agricultural practices performed by the Aymara communities. The cultivation in this zone is carried out under extreme conditions where the standard [...] Read more.
Oregano from Socoroma (Atacama Desert) is characterized by its unique organoleptic properties and distinctive flavor and it is produced using ancestral pesticide-free agricultural practices performed by the Aymara communities. The cultivation in this zone is carried out under extreme conditions where the standard production of different crops is limited by several environmental factors, including aridity, high concentration of salts, and boron among others. However, oregano plants are associated with microorganisms that mitigate biotic and abiotic stresses present in this site. In this work, the S57 strain (member of the Pseudomonas genus that is closely related to Pseudomonas lini) was isolated from roots of oregano plants, which are grown in soils with high content of non-sodium salts and aluminum. This bacterium stimulates the growth of Micro-Tom tomato plants irrigated with saline-boric water. Moreover, it controls the growth of phytopathogenic fungi Fusarium oxysporum and Botrytis cinerea and the nematode Meloidogyne incognita under saline-boric conditions. Together with the high levels of bacterial biomass (~47 g/L), these results allow the establishment of the bases for developing a potential new agricultural bioproduct useful for arid and semiarid environments where commercial biological products show erratic behavior. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Weaponizing Plants: Biocontrol and Biosecurity in Plant Protection)
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Article
Field Efficacy of Steinernema sp. (Rhabditida: Steinernematidae) on the Colorado Potato Beetle Overwintering Generation
Plants 2021, 10(7), 1464; https://doi.org/10.3390/plants10071464 - 16 Jul 2021
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 586
Abstract
Colorado potato beetle (CPB) is an economic pest of potato that has developed resistance to all classes of chemical insecticides, thus requiring alternative control measures. As a potential solution, entomopathogenic nematodes (EPNs) have proven effective in suppressing this pest, but their efficacy against [...] Read more.
Colorado potato beetle (CPB) is an economic pest of potato that has developed resistance to all classes of chemical insecticides, thus requiring alternative control measures. As a potential solution, entomopathogenic nematodes (EPNs) have proven effective in suppressing this pest, but their efficacy against overwintering generations of CPB in Croatia has not been sufficiently researched. The aim of this two-year (2018–2019) field study was to determine the efficacy of Steinernema feltiae and Steinernema carpocapsae applied to overwintering CPB adults. EPNs were applied at three doses (7.5 mil./10 m2, 5.0 mil./10 m2 (the recommended dose) and 2.5 mil./10 m2) by watering the soil where the adults were overwintering. The first-year results were satisfactory for both EPNs: the efficacy of S. feltiae ranged from 79.03% to 100.00%, while the efficacy of S. carpocapsae ranged from 77.32% to 96.22%. In the second year, the highest efficacy (69.57%) was obtained using the recommended dose of S. feltiae. Although the results are not consistent across the two years of our study and suggest further research, they indicate that EPNs have great potential in controlling overwintering CPB generations to reduce first generation abundance and damage, and also to prevent the spread of new generations to surrounding potato growing areas. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Weaponizing Plants: Biocontrol and Biosecurity in Plant Protection)
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Article
Effects of Agronomic Practices on the Severity of Sweet Basil Downy Mildew (Peronospora belbahrii)
Plants 2021, 10(5), 907; https://doi.org/10.3390/plants10050907 - 30 Apr 2021
Viewed by 479
Abstract
Downy mildew (caused by Peronospora belbahrii) is a severe disease of sweet basil (Ocimum basilicum) crops around the world. We examined cultural methods for reducing the severity of sweet basil downy mildew (SBDM) under commercial conditions in greenhouses and walk-in [...] Read more.
Downy mildew (caused by Peronospora belbahrii) is a severe disease of sweet basil (Ocimum basilicum) crops around the world. We examined cultural methods for reducing the severity of sweet basil downy mildew (SBDM) under commercial conditions in greenhouses and walk-in tunnels. The effects of the orientation of walk-in tunnels, air circulation in greenhouses, plant density, and soil mulch were tested. SBDM was less severe in the tunnels that were oriented north-south than in those oriented east-west, but the yields in both types of tunnels were similar. Increased air circulation reduced SBDM severity, but did not affect yield. Gray or transparent polyethylene mulch reduced SBDM severity and, in most cases, increased yield relative to bare soil/growth medium. Yellow polyethylene mulch provided a smaller amount of control. The combination of increased air circulation and yellow polyethylene mulch provided synergistic SBDM control, whereas no synergism was observed when we combined increased air circulation with the other two types of mulch. Planting at half the usual density reduced disease severity. The reduced plant density was associated with reduced yield in the greenhouses, but not in the tunnels. All of the tested methods provided an intermediate level of SBDM control that varied among the different experiments. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Weaponizing Plants: Biocontrol and Biosecurity in Plant Protection)
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Review

Jump to: Research

Review
A Sustainable Alternative for Postharvest Disease Management and Phytopathogens Biocontrol in Fruit: Antagonistic Yeasts
Plants 2021, 10(12), 2641; https://doi.org/10.3390/plants10122641 - 01 Dec 2021
Viewed by 206
Abstract
Postharvest diseases of fruits caused by phytopathogens cause losses up to 50% of global production. Phytopathogens control is performed with synthetic fungicides, but the application causes environmental contamination problems and human and animal health in addition to generating resistance. Yeasts are antagonist microorganisms [...] Read more.
Postharvest diseases of fruits caused by phytopathogens cause losses up to 50% of global production. Phytopathogens control is performed with synthetic fungicides, but the application causes environmental contamination problems and human and animal health in addition to generating resistance. Yeasts are antagonist microorganisms that have been used in the last years as biocontrol agents and in sustainable postharvest disease management in fruits. Yeast application for biocontrol of phytopathogens has been an effective action worldwide. This review explores the sustainable use of yeasts in each continent, the main antagonistic mechanisms towards phytopathogens, their relationship with OMIC sciences, and patents at the world level that involve yeast-based-products for their biocontrol. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Weaponizing Plants: Biocontrol and Biosecurity in Plant Protection)
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Planned Papers

The below list represents only planned manuscripts. Some of these manuscripts have not been received by the Editorial Office yet. Papers submitted to MDPI journals are subject to peer-review.

Title: Plant growth promoter and biocontroller activity of Pseudomonas sp. S57 strain isolated from oregano plants from Socoroma, Chile.
Authors: Patricio Alberto Munoz Torres
Affiliation: UC Davis Chile and University of Tarapacá
Abstract: Oregano from Socoroma (Atacama Desert) is characterized by its unique organoleptic properties and distinctive flavor, and it is produced using ancestral pesticide-free agricultural practices performed by Aymara communities. Its cultivation is carried out under extreme condition, where the production of different crops is limited by several environmental factors, including aridity, high concentration of salts and boron, high UV radiation, among others. However, oregano plants are associated to microorganisms that mitigate biotic and abiotic stresses present in this site. In this work, the S57 strain was isolated from roots of oregano plants, which are grown in soils with high content of non-sodium salts and aluminum. This bacterium showed plant-growth promoting traits in vitro and in Microtom tomato plants, and biocontrol properties against phytopathogenic fungi, such as Fusarium oxysporum and Botrytis cinerea, under standard and saline-boric conditions. This bacterium is a member of Pseudomonas genus and it is closely related to Pseudomonas lini. Bacterial growth of the S57 strain was optimized in flask and bioreactor conditions, reaching a biomass of ~47 g/L of bacterium, stablishing the bases for the development of a potential new agricultural bioproduct useful for arid and semiarid environments, where commercial biological products show an erratic behavior

Title: Microelements effect on downy mildew (Peronospora belbahrii) of sweet basil
Authors: Yigal Elad1*; Ziv Nisan1,2,3; Ziv Kleinman2; Dalia Rav-David1; Uri Yermiyahu4
Affiliation: 1 Department Plant Pathology and Weed Research, Agricultural Research Organization, The Volcani Center, 68 Hamakabim Rd, Rishon LeZion 7534509, Israel. 2 Tzevi Research Station, Bikeat HaYarden Research and Development, M. P. Bikeat HaYarden 91906, Israel. 3 The Robert H. Smith Faculty of Agriculture, Food and Environment, the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Rehovot, Israel. 4 Agricultural Research Organization, Gilat Research Center, D.N. Negev 2, 85280, Israel.
Abstract: We have recently demonstrated that spraying or irrigating with Ca, Mg and K reduced the severity of sweet basil downy mildew (SBDM). Here, the effect of the microelements manganese (Mn), zinc (Zn), coper (Cu) and iron (Fe) on SBDM was tested in potted plants, with Mn and Zn also being tested under semi-commercial and commercial-like field conditions. Spray treatment of the mixture of EDTA-chelated microelements (EDTA-Fe, EDTA-Mn, EDTA-Zn, EDTA-Cu, and Mo) reduced SBDM severity. In potted plants, single microelements used as of Fe, Mn, and Zn EDTA chelates, significantly reduced SBDM. Spray of EDTA-Mn and EDTA-Zn was found effective under semi-commercial conditions and therefore, was further tested under commercial-like conditions. Under these conditions, a greenhouse spray with the two microelements, EDTA-Mn and EDTA-Zn, decreased SBDM severity by 46-71%. The two microelements were also effective when applied in the irrigation water, achieving more than 50% SBDM reduction. Combining Mg with Mn and Zn in the irrigation water did not result in further disease severity reduction. In the last field experiment, the combination of each of the microelement treatments as spray, or addition to the irrigation water, had a synergistic effect with fungicide spray treatments. In conclusion, microelements affect SBDM severity on sweet basil. It is suggested that the mode of action in this plant-pathogen system utilizes features of altered host resistance.

Title: Effect of mineral nutrition on cucumber powdery mildew (Podosphaera xanthii)
Authors: Yigal Elad1*, Dor Barnea1,2,3, Dalia Rav-David1 and Uri Yermiyahu3,4
Affiliation: 1 Department Plant Pathology and Weed Research, Agricultural Research Organization, The Volcani Center, 68 Hamakabim Rd, Rishon LeZion 7534509, Israel. 2 Tzevi Research Station, Bikeat HaYarden Research and Development, M. P. Bikeat HaYarden 91906, Israel. 3 The Robert H. Smith Faculty of Agriculture, Food and Environment, the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Rehovot, Israel. 4 Agricultural Research Organization, Gilat Research Center, D.N. Negev 2, 85280, Israel.
Abstract: Abstract: In recent years, we have demonstrated that spraying or irrigating with either potassium (K), magnesium (Mg), or calcium (Ca), reduced the severity of sweet basil diseases. Here, the effect of nitrogen (N), phosphorous (P), K, Mg, and Ca in the irrigation water, and sprays of K-, Ca-, and Mg- salts, were tested in potted plants and under commercial-like conditions, examining their effect on cucumber powdery mildew (CPM, Podosphaera xanthii). Spray of CaCl2 and MgCl2, or KCl and K2SO4, decreased CPM. Significant negative correlation was observed between the anion related molar concentration of the salts, and disease severity. In spray treatments, NaCl was significantly less effective in CPM suppression at a low (0.05 M) concentration than CaCl2, MgCl2. The most suppressive effect on CPM severity was obtained at concentration of 0.1 M, with no further disease reduction at higher concentrations (<0.6 M). When salt-spray treatments of Mg and K were analyzed separately from the untreated control the Cl- - containing salts were statistically more effective than the SO4-2 –salts. Supplementation of nutritional elements in the irrigation water of young fruit-less cucumber plants reduced CPM at high N and Mg concentrations, while higher CPM was observed at medium P and high K concentrations. Alternatively, mature plants bearing fruits had lower CPM severity at higher N, lower P and higher K, under commercial-like conditions. Spray of mature plants with mono potassium phosphate, polyhalite (K2Ca2Mg(SO4)4·2H2O), and the salts mentioned above, during an entire growing season, suppressed CPM. In conclusion, the severity of CPM can be reduced by foliar application of Ca, Mg and K SO4-2 and Cl- salts (Cl- salts are somewhat more effective). Foliar application seems to be more versatile and potent in CPM suppression, as compared with application through the irrigation water. It is assumed that induced resistance is involved in the effect of nutritional elements on CPM.

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