Submitted to: Meeting Abstract
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: January 30, 2012
Publication Date: June 18, 2102
Citation: Janisiewicz, W.J. 2102. Biological control of postharvest diseases: hurdles, successes and prospects [abstract]. International Organic Fruit Research Symposium. p. 65. Technical Abstract: Research has accelerated recently on biological control of postharvest diseases (BCPD) and resulted in the development of a few commercial products for controlling decays of temperate and subtropical fruits. The demand for alternatives to synthetic fungicides is much greater than the supply provided by new technologies, including biological control. The research around the world has solidified the usefulness of BCPD and at the same time identified its limitations. These limitations result from knowledge gaps that can be addressed by additional research, and regulations that are poorly adopted to microbial biocontrol agents,and should be addressed by the regulatory agencies. The research gaps include limited understanding of the mechanisms of biocontrol on fruit, microbial ecology of the fruit surfaces, survival of the antagonists under adverse conditions, and improvement of antagonists by changing their physiology and environment to prolong their shelf life and increase efficacy. More research is also needed to determine compatibility of biocontrol with other alternative treatments, to adapt biocontrol to new production technologies such as mechanical harvesting that may predispose fruit to decay, and to expand the use of biocontrol products to new commodities and different diseases. Currently, available products were developed to control decays originating from wound infections; however, significant postharvest losses on various fruits may also occur from decays originating from the latent infections occurring before harvest. Controlling these decays has become the new frontier for the biological control. New approaches utilizing natural fruit wax and artificial membranes were recently developed to find effective antagonists to control latent infections. The regulatory aspect remains the main stumbling block in the greater use of BCPD. High cost of tests required for the registration prohibited commercial development of several effective biocontrol agents. A new framework is needed for streamlining registration of low risk biocontrol agents, especially those that are naturally occurring on the fruit surfaces. IR-4 program has been the best vehicle for expanding registration of currently available products to new commodities, and the continuous expansion in use of BCPD testifies to growers’ acceptance of this approach.