Sponsoring Institution
National Institute of Food and Agriculture
Project Status
Funding Source
Reporting Frequency
Accession No.
Grant No.
Project No.
Proposal No.
Multistate No.
Program Code
Project Start Date
May 15, 2004
Project End Date
Dec 31, 2004
Grant Year
Project Director
Bradley, C. A.
Recipient Organization
Performing Department
Non Technical Summary
Montana Microbial Products is working to commercially develop a selected bacterium that controls plant diseases. The bacterium was isolated from sugar beets. When sprayed on sugar beets in filed trials, the bacterium induces a series of defense mechanisms in the plant, referred to as systemic induced resistance, that controls an important fungal disease. This same mechanism also controls a bacterial disease of sugar beets and greenhouse trials indicate the same mechanism controls a fungal disease of cucumber. This phase 1 SBIR project will evaluate SIR and control of representative fungal bacterial and viral diseases in cucumber as a model for a commercially important plant/pathogen system. Demonstrating control of biologically diverse pathogens would expand potential markets and establish bacterial SIR as an important new microbial control for plant diseases.
Animal Health Component
Research Effort Categories

Knowledge Area (KA)Subject of Investigation (SOI)Field of Science (FOS)Percent
Goals / Objectives
Overall objective is to demonstrate technical feasibility of bacterially triggered, systemic induced resistance (SIR) in controlling multiple crop diseases. Specific objectives are to: 1) Develop in house production and quality control for the selected bacterium. 2) Demonstrate SIR disease control of one or more target pathogens in cucurbits. 3) Generate data on application rates and timing as a basis for designing field trials. 4) Predict additional crop/pathogen systems where bacterial SIR might be effective.
Project Methods
Previous laboratory and field research demonstrated control of both fungal and bacterial disease of sugar beets by application of a selected bacterium that triggers SIR. Data from greenhouse studies also demonstrated fungal disease control in cucumbers with application of the bacterium. The object of the phase 1 SBIR project is to better define the activity spectrum for SIR disease control in additional plant/pathogen systems. The project will address two key questions: 1)does the bacterium trigger SIR in plant families other than sugar beets and 2)is disease control limited to certain fungi or can bacterial SIR also control bacterial and viral plant diseases? In phase 1, MMP will evaluate SIR and pathogen control in cucurbits. Five fungal, bacterial, and viral pathogens of cucumber representing economically important plant diseases were selected for evaluation. Cucumber pathogen systems were chosen because the research team has established protocols and experience with this host/pathogen system, the selected pathogens cause disease in all members of the cucurbit family, and the selected pathogens represent broad biologically diversity.

Progress 05/15/04 to 12/31/04

This report describes completion of a Phase I SBIR project that advanced commercial development of a strain of Bacillus mycoides, BmJ, as a microbial disease control agent in agricultural crops. Dr. Barry Jacobsen and his co-workers at Montana State University first isolated this strain and described induction of systemic resistance and control of a fungal disease in sugar beets, Cercospora leaf spot (Cercospora beticola). Montana Microbial Products (MMP) is working to obtain USEPA registration and commercially develop BmJ in sugar beets. The overall objective of the phase I SBIR project was to better define the activity spectrum for commercially developing BmJ for disease control in additional plant/pathogen systems. MMP designed the Phase I work plan to meet four principal technical objectives in commercially developing BmJ. Develop in house production and quality control for BmJ. Demonstrate BmJ induced disease control of one or more target pathogens in cucurbits. Provide a foundation for phase II by generating data on application rates and timing for use in designing field trials. Provide a basis for predicting additional crop, pathogen systems where BmJ might be effective. The phase I project met these objectives, demonstrating the technical feasibility of developing BmJ as a microbial disease control agent in a broad spectrum of crop/disease systems. Evaluations of BmJ carbon and nitrogen utilization and sporulation led to development of a low cost fermentation media and a production process for dispersed spore preparations. BmJ normally produces endospores contained in chains and clumps creating difficult quality control and application problems. The company also developed the contamination quality control procedures necessary to meet USEPA regulatory requirements. Working with the Jacobsen lab at MSU, the project demonstrated control of one bacterial (Pseudomonas syringe pv lachrymans) and two fungal (Colletotrichum lagenarium and Corynespora cassicola) pathogens of cucumber. In related work, MMP and the Jacobsen group demonstrated control of Anthracnose (C. lagenarium) in cucumber field trials. Application rates used in greenhouse and field trials are economical compared with product costs estimated from fermentation process development. BmJ spore titers used in greenhouse trials provide the starting point for field trials. Greenhouse and field trials have demonstrated BmJ induced resistance and control of diverse fungal and bacterial diseases across a wide spectrum of unrelated crop species. Phase I greenhouse tests did not demonstrate control of cucumber mosaic virus and bacterial wilt of cucumber, however BmJ does limit foliar and vascular damage from a related Erwinia bacterial wilt in sugar beet

The SBIR Phase I project demonstrated that BmJ has the potential to provide a new tool for disease management that addresses important disease management issues in production agriculture. Phase I results indicate that BmJ can be priced to compete with older fungicides, displacing the more toxic and environmentally damaging chemistries in disease fungicide rotations. The unique mode of action will enable new strategies for managing pathogen resistance to new chemistries. With EPA registration as a microbial pest control agent and exemptions from residue tolerances, growers will have another option for addressing residue issues. BmJ has the potential to provide cost effective non-chemical disease control when coupled with disease resistant plant varieties and agronomic practices. Finally, BmJ offers an important addition to available disease control methods in organic agriculture.


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