Scope and Goals

Beneficial microorganisms for bio-control of plant and human pathogens

Food-borne diseases due to consumption of food contaminated with bacterial human pathogens are a food safety concern worldwide. Plant pathogens and plant parasites are causing tremendous amounts of crop loss every year, which is a major food security issue. The use of beneficial microorganisms to suppress such pathogens has become a reliable alternative to the application of chemically synthesized pesticides. For some pathogens biological control shows more satisfying results than chemical control.

Still, presently available solutions are insufficient due to a lack in understanding of the host-pest environmental relationships.

Fundamental research is needed to provide solutions to design pest management programs for various pests and diseases. There is a need for different bio-agents from various local sources with numerous active ingredients in different formulations.

Expected outcome of this project is the development of a number of new and innovative bio-control agents and biotechnological products with high efficiency to control phytopathogens and human pathogens, transmitted by fresh vegetables and fruits. The products will be produced in commercial scale and provide new environmentally friendly and economically valuable solutions for local organic and traditional food production in Egypt and the surrounding region.

Main areas of the research

HUMAN PATHOGENS

Food-borne diseases due to consumption of food contaminated with bacterial human pathogens are a food safety concern worldwide. Studies indicate that sprouting seeds serve as primary source of the human pathogens. Fruits and vegetables may also be an important reservoir for human pathogens.

NEMATODES

Root knot nematode is considered as one of the most serious nematode pests of agriculture and horticultural crops in Egypt and most widely distributed droop of plant-parasitic nematodes all over the world. An estimated 10% of world crop production is lost due to nematode damage. It causes and estimated $80 billion in losses worldwide.

RALSTONIA

Ralstonia solanacearum is a soil-borne plant pathogen that causes a lethal wilting disease on many important crops. The host range includes more than 450 plant species representing over 50 families of plants. Chemical control does not provide satisfactory disease control. Biological control has emerged as one of the most important methods in the management of the disease.

Goals and expected outcomes

The scientific goals of this project are:

• to detect location, abundance and diversity of bacterial and fungal soil-borne pathogens, phyllosphere-human pathogens in Egyptian field soils,

• to develop bio-control products on the basis of antagonists as well as bacteriophages and

• to develop bio-control strategies, which can be integrated in plant protection systems for desert agriculture.

The project will provide dissemination of knowledge and scientific results among the Mediterranean countries.