The synthetic fungicide market is estimated to reach over $15 billion by 2019 in the US alone (BCC 2014). Fungicide product sales continue to expand at a CAGR of 7.8% whilst the EU commission’s new policies on highly toxic pesticides could remove up to 35% of fungicides from the market (BCC 2014). With this increase in demand and anticipated shortfall in supply, biological fungicides have enormous commercial potential with the convergence of: consumer demand for cleaner food; grower needs for effective and flexible pesticide alternatives; and pressure on government agencies to restrict older chemistries in the interest of community safety.Researchers at the University of Queensland have isolated novel bacteria from suppressive soils which strongly antagonise the growth of fungal plant pathogens. These bacterial strains have demonstrated efficacy as biocontrol inoculants.
The team has successfully developed and licensed a commercial product HayRite™ containing a proprietary Bacillus strain for the protection of hay from mould. The advantage of this inoculant is the spore forming properties which make the active organism resistant to UV (better survival in the environment e.g. leaf surface) and hatch in synchrony with the target pathogens to give better activity. Subsequent strain development has identified a number of new strains which have shown promising results for the biocontrol of a variety of common soil borne and leaf borne fungal pathogens with the potential for seed coating or foliar spray applications respectively.