Combined use of biocontrol agents to manage plant diseases in theory and practice

X-M XuM J Jeger


Effective use of biological control agents (BCAs) is a potentially important component of sustainable agriculture. Recently, there has been an increasing interest among researchers in using combinations of BCAs to exploit potential synergistic effects among them. The methodology for investigating such synergistic effects was reviewed first and published results were then assessed for available evidence for synergy. Correct formulation of hypotheses based on the theoretical definition of independence (Bliss independence or Loewe additivity) and the subsequent and statistical testing for the independence-synergistic-antagonistic interactions have rarely been carried out thus far in studies on biocontrol of plant diseases. Thus, caution must be taken when interpreting reported "synergistic" effects without assessing the original publications. Recent theoretical modeling work suggested that disease suppression from combined use of two BCAs was, in general, very similar to that achieved by the more efficacious one, indicating no synergistic but more likely antagonistic interactions. Only in 2% of the total 465 published treatments was there evidence for synergistic effects among BCAs. In the majority of the cases, antagonistic inter...Continue Reading


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