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Why transgenic biocontrol agents?

Genetic engineering offers an approach to enhance the consistency of performance, spectrum of activity and colonising ability of BCAs. All mechanisms of biocontrol (competition/pre-emptive exclusion, parasitism/predation, induction of systemic resistance and antibiosis/toxin production) have been targeted for improvement during the last 25 years. Selected examples of proof of concept studies are given below.

Competition/pre-emptive exclusion

Expression of the Pseudomonas putida WCS358 ferric siderophore receptor pupA in strain WCS374 increased the competitiveness of WCS374 against WCS358 when both strains were co-inoculated (Raaijmakers et al., 1995). Increasing the copy number of the Pseudomonas fluorescens WCS365 site-specific recombinase gene sss in F113 and WCS307 increased the competitive colonisation ability of the recombinant strains on tomato root tips (Dekkers et al., 2000). This gene plays a role in DNA rearrangements and is thought to help keep bacterial cells from becoming “locked in” a state unfavourable for competitive colonisation.

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