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.
- No publications reported this period