Bacillus subtilis is a ubiquitous naturally occurring saprophytic bacterium that is commonly recovered from soil, water, air, and decomposing plant material. Under most conditions, however, it is not biologically active and is present in the spore form. Different strains of B. subtilis can be used as biological control agents under different situations. There are two general categories of B. subtilis strains; those that are applied to the foliage of a plant, and those applied to the soil or transplant mix when seeding.
HOW IT WORKS:
B. subtilis bacteria produce a class of lipopeptide antibiotics including iturins. Iturins help B. subtilis bacteria out-compete other microorganisms by either killing them or reducing their growth rate (CPL 2002). Iturins can also have direct fungicidal activity on pathogens. B. subtilis products are made for many uses. For plant disease control, these include foliar application and products applied to the root zone, compost, or seed. When applied directly to seeds, the bacteria colonize the developing root system, competing with disease organisms that attack root systems.
TYPES OF PESTS IT CONTROLS:
Iturins are reportedly active against the fungus Sclerotinia fruticola, which causes rots of harvested stone fruit. B. subtilis has also been tested for control of the pathogenic fungus Verticillium. B. subtilis has been used in conjunction with Streptomyces gramicifaciens for control of root rot in cucumber, corky rot of tomato and carnation wilt. According to manufacturers, Norway maple inoculated with B. subtilis also shows increased resistance to fungal diseases. It is also claimed to suppress diseases caused by Fusarium spp. and Rhizoctonia spp (CPL 2002).
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