Research has demonstrated the agricultural potential of biological control. For airborne pathogens as well as for soilborne pathogens similar strategies based on different targets in the life cycle of the pathogen can be distinguished, viz. (1) microbial protection of the host against infection, (2) microbial reduction of pathogen sporulation and (3) microbial interference with pathogen survival. Some successes and failures with respect to these targets will be discussed and include (1) biocontrol of seedling diseases, root pathogens, and post-harvest diseases (2) biocontrol of powdery mildew and Botrytis cinerea (3) biocontrol of sclerotial pathogens. Despite of a lot of research on biological control of plant diseases, the number of products available is limited and their market size is marginal. The market for biological control products is not only determined by agricultural aspects such as the number of diseases controlled by one biocontrol product in different crops but also by economic aspects as cost-effective mass production, easy registration and the availability of competing means of control including fungicides. The future development of low-chemical input sustainable agriculture and organic farming will determine the eventual role of biological control in agriculture.
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