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Agricultural and Biological Sciences » "Weed and Pest Control - Conventional and New Challenges", book edited by Sonia Soloneski and Marcelo Larramendy, ISBN 978-953-51-0984-6, Published: March 14, 2013 under CC BY 3.0 license. © The Author(s).

Chapter 4

Biological Control of Root Pathogens by Plant- Growth Promoting Bacillus spp.

By Hernández F.D. Castillo, Castillo F. Reyes, Gallegos G. Morales, Rodríguez R. Herrera and C. Aguilar
DOI: 10.5772/54229

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Effect B. subtilis in inhibition of mycelia growth of Fusarium sp., Alternaria dauci and Rhizoctonia solani.
Figure 1. Effect B. subtilis in inhibition of mycelia growth of Fusarium sp., Alternaria dauci and Rhizoctonia solani.
Average fruit yield of tomato plants cv. Floradade under greenhouse conditions subjected to different treatments with microcapsules containing strains of Bacillus subtilis, a chemical control (TQ) and a blank (TA).
Figure 2. Average fruit yield of tomato plants cv. Floradade under greenhouse conditions subjected to different treatments with microcapsules containing strains of Bacillus subtilis, a chemical control (TQ) and a blank (TA).
Treatments effect with Bacillus subtilis in fields on melon crops with high incidence of Fusarium oxysporum.
Figure 3. Treatments effect with Bacillus subtilis in fields on melon crops with high incidence of Fusarium oxysporum.
Effect of Bacillus
							subtilis in the biomass production of pepper plants (root). Treatments Bacillus and treatments without Bacillus.
Figure 4. Effect of Bacillus subtilis in the biomass production of pepper plants (root). Treatments Bacillus and treatments without Bacillus.

Biological Control of Root Pathogens by Plant- Growth Promoting Bacillus spp.

Hernández F.D. Castillo1, Castillo F. Reyes2, Gallegos G. Morales1, Rodríguez R. Herrera3 and C. Aguilar3

1. Introduction

At the present time, among the most important factors limiting production of different crops are soil-borne plant pathogens [1]. Which include the genera Pythium, Rhizoctonia, Fusarium, Verticillium, Phytophthora spp, Sclerotinia, Sclerotium, and Rosellinia [2]. By this reason, different methods have been used to control these pathogens [3]. Cultural practices and chemical control using synthetic fungicides are the most used control methods [4], however, use of some of these synthetic products has caused various problems due to environmental pollution, with consequences such as toxicity to humans, as well as resistance of certain pathogens to these fungicides [5]. An alternative to reduce the effect of these plant pathogens is the use of antagonistic microorganisms such as: some species of the genusBacillus which is recognized as one of the most effective biological control agent because of their properties on pathogens growth inhibition [6-7]. Biological control has many advantages as an alternative in the integrated management of diseases such as little or no harmful side effects, rare cases of resistance, long-term control, completely or substantially eliminates the use of synthetic pesticides, cost / benefit ratio very favorable; prevents secondary diseases, not symptoms of poisoning and can be used as part of integrated disease management [8]. Generally, the mode of action of Bacillus is antibiosis by producing extracellular hydrolytic enzymes which decompose polysaccharides, nucleic acids, other way are: production of antibiotics such as bacitracin, polymyxin, and gramicidin, [9-11], competition to occupy an ecological niche and metabolize root exudates on pathogens affecting their growth [12-13]. Also, activating plant resistance induction when installed in the roots and leaves which induces plant to produce phytoalexins which give resistance against attack by fungi, bacteria and pathogenic nematodes [14], reducing in these ways disease incidence.

2. Overview of Bacillus

The genus Bacillus Cohn was established in 1872, initially with two prominent forming endospores species: Bacillus anthracis and B. subtilis, actually, this genus has suffered considerable taxonomic changes, until early 1900, taxonomists not only restricted the genus to endospore forming bacteria, having that the number of species assigned to this genus were 146 in the 5th edition of Bergey's Manual of Systematic Bacteriology. Subsequent comparison studies by Smith et al. and Gordon et al. over 1114 strains of aerobic bacteria forming endospores (PGPR) helped to reduce this number to 22 well-defined species same as reported in the 8th edition of Bergey's Manual of Systematic Bacteriology [15]. Bacillales is the order to which Bacillaceae family belongs within the genus Bacillus. This genus is characterized by having a rod shape within the group of Gram positive [16-17], and is therefore classified as strict aerobes or facultative anaerobes [18] and integrated by 88 species [15]. A feature associated with this genus is that it forms a type of cell called endospore as a response to adverse growth conditions which distorts the structure of the cell. This spore form is resistant to high temperatures and current chemical disinfectants [19]. This genus is abundant in various ecological niches which include soil, water and air [18, 20], it is also found as food contaminants. Generally, Bacillus species used in bio-control are mobile, with peritrichous flagella, but yet some species are of interest in human medicine (B. anthracis) which are characterized as being stationary [21].

2.1. Ecology and habits

Distribution and habitat of Bacillus are very diverse; some species have been isolated from soil micro-flora adjacent to plants rhizosphere, water, air and food as contaminants [18, 20]. Eco-physiological criteria commonly used to group different species such as vertebrate pathogens, insect pathogens, antibiotics producer, nitrogen-fixing, denitrifying, thermophilic, psychotropic halophilic, alkali and acidifies rows. For example B. thuringiensis is considered an insect pathogen and is used as a bio-pesticide, it has been isolated from soil, and abundantly found worldwide [22-24], in soil remains largely in the form of endospores [25], particles of dust in suspension [26], insect bodies sick or dead [27], also is found in stored products [28-29], food [30], marine sediments [32], and even as opportunistic human pathogen [33]. Furthermore, Bacillus species are found abundantly in plant leaves [34-38]. In conclusion, the Bacillus genus has a cosmopolitan distribution (Table 1).

Organism Reference strain isolated from Common habitats and comments
B. acidocaldarius Hot springsAcid hot springs and soils, enrichment from neutral soils have failed.
B. alcalophilus Human fecessoil, water, dung
B. alvei Honeybee larvae suffering from European foulbroodSoil, this specie is a saprophyte but common in bees with European foulbrood
B. aminovorans Soil
B. amyloliquefaciens Soilsoil, industrial amylase fermentations
B. amylolyticus Soil
B. aneurinolyticus human feces
B. azotofixans Soilsoil, rhizosphere of various grasses
B. azotoformans SoilSoil
B. apiaries Dead larvae of honeybee
B. badius Human fecesDust, coastal waters, soil
B. benzoevarans SoilSoil
B. brevis SoilFoods, soil, seawater, and sediments
B. cereus Soilsoil, foods, especially dried foods, spices, and milk; seawater and sediments
B. circulans SoilWidespread in soil and decomposing vegetables; medicated creams, Relatively scarce in soil.
B. cirroflagellosus marine mud
B. coagulans evaporated milkBeet sugar, canned foods, especially vegetables; medicated creams, relatively scarce in soil.
B. epiphytus marine phytoplankton
B. fastidiosus Soilsoil, poultry litter
B. firmus Soilsoil, seawater and marine sediments, salt marshes
B. freudenreichii Soil, river water, and sewage
B. globisporus Soilsoil, mud, and water
B. insolitus Soilsoil, mud, water and frozen foods
B. laevolacticus Rhizosphere of ditch crowfootrhizosphere of plants
B. larvae honeybee larvae suffering from American foulbroodInfected brood and honey combs. Presumable in soil around hives of bees
B. laterosporas Soilsoil, water, dead honeybee larvae, rumen of animals
B. lentimorbus hemolymph of larvae of Japanese beetlecauses milky disease of scarabaeidae larvae
B. lentus SoilSeawater, marine sediments, salt marshes and soil. Spices including black and red pepper
B. lecheniformis Soilsoil, marine and freshwaters; foods, particularly dried foods, spices and cocoa beans, compost, rumen of cattle
B. macerans unknownfoods and vegetables, compost
B. macquariensis soil from Macquarie islandUnknown
B. macroides cow dungdecaying material
B. marinus seawaterUnknown
B. megaterium Soilsoil including desert soil, seawater and marine sediments, cocoa bean, dried foods and spices
B. pacificus sand from seashoreSeawater
B. pantothenticus Soilgenerally considered to be a soil inhabitant but also isolated from pharmaceutical products
B. pasteutii Soilsoil, water, sewage, urinals
B. polymyxa Soilwidely distributed in soil, decomposing plant matter and water
B. popilliae Commercial spore dustcauses milky disease of scarabaeidae larvae
B. psychrophilus Soilsoil, water, mud, frozen foods vegetables
B. pulvifaciens dead larvae of honeybeeUnknown
B. pumilus SoilUbiquitous in soil. Also found in seawater and marine sediments. Common in dried foods.
B. racemilactius rhizosphere of wild lettucerhizosphere of plants
B. schlegelii sediments of eutrophic lakeUnknown
B. sphaericus Soilsoil, marine and freshwaters sediments and foods
B. stearothermoplilus unknownsoil, foods including milk, canned foods and sugar beet, dried foods
B. subtilis Soilsoil, marine and freshwater and sediments, foods including spices, cocoa, pulses, seeds and bread
B. thermoglucosidasius SoilUnknown
B. thiaminolyticus Human fecesUnknown
B. thuringiensis Pathogenic for lepidopteran larvae, common in soil.
B. xerothermodurans SoilUnknown

Table 1.

Sources and common habitats of aerobic endospore forming bacteria of Bacillus genus, [39].

2.2. Importance how antifungal agents

Many species of Bacillus including B. subtilis, B. licheniformis, B. pumilus, B. amyloliquefaciens, B. cereus, B. mycoides and B. thuringiensis, are known to suppress growth of several fungal pathogens such as Rhizoctonia, Fusarium, Sclerotinia, Sclerotium, Gaeummanomyces, Nectria, Pythium, Phytophthora and Verticillium [20, 40-43]. The main property of antagonist bacterial strains is production of antifungal antibiotics [44-45], which seem to play a major role in biological control of plant pathogens [6, 44, 46-49] and post-harvest spoilage fungi [50]. Many of these antifungal substances have been characterized and identified as peptide antibiotics [51]. Antifungal peptides produced by Bacillus species: iturins [20, 52-53] are: mycosubtilins [54-55], bacillomycins [56-57], surfactins [58-59], fungistatins [60-61], and subsporins [62-63]. Most of these antibiotics are cyclic peptides composed entirely of amino acids, but some may contain other residues. However, a few antibiotic peptides are linear such as rhizocticins [64]. Bacillus spp. produces also a range of other metabolites including chitinases and other cell wall-degrading enzymes [65-68], and volatiles compounds [68-70] which elicit plant resistance mechanisms [14, 71].

The amount of antibiotics produced by bacilli class was approaching 167 [45], being 66 derived from B. subtilis, 23 from B. brevis and the remaining antibiotic peptides are produced by other species of Bacillus. The main antibiotic producers of this genus are B. brevis (gramicidin, tyrothricin) [72], B. licheniformis (bacitracin), B. polymyxa (polymyxin, colistin), B. pumilus (pumulin), B. subtilis (polymyxin, difficidin, subtilin, mycobacillin, bacitracin), B. cereus (cerexin, zwittermicin), B. circulans (circulin), B. laterosporus (laterosporin) [14, 68-71].

2.3. Collection and isolation of Bacillus

Traditional tools for determining composition of the soil bacterial community and diversity are based largely on in vitro culture methods. Typically, solid organic medium is inoculated with dilutions of a suspension of soil, then incubated and the colonies obtained are purified further sub culturing into another medium [73]. Heat treatment or pasteurization is the most used technique for selecting spores. These techniques are very powerful because they are selective to remove all non-spore forming microorganisms, and are very efficient for obtaining populations of bacteria from spores, recommended temperatures oscillate between 65 to 70 ° C for 15 minutes [74-75]. However, heat treatment has to be adapted to certain species because endospores of some strains of bacteria are more resistant to heat than others, while incubation time used can vary from 3 to 30 min [76]. It is recommended to start heating at a relatively low temperature (70 or 75 ° C) and gradually increasing to achieve an optimum temperature [77]. To isolate endospores, some authors have taken advantage of spore tolerance to diverse stress conditions, for example, Koransky et al. [78] concluded that treatment with ethanol (50%) for 1 h is an effective technique to selectively isolate spore- forming bacteria, as effective as heat treatment to 80 ° C for 15 minutes. Patel et al. [79] confirmed this finding by isolating Bacillus strains from food residues, both by heating at 65 ° C for 45 minutes and incubation with ethanol. Soil drying may also be used as a selective method to isolation by striking desiccation tolerance of spores, which can therefore survive for long periods of time under these conditions. Drying treatment is probably more gentle that heating or ethanol incubation. Eman et al. [80] reported that vegetative cells were killed by addition of chloroform (1% v / v) however; this technique has not been validated. An interesting selection process, which is different from classical heat treatment was developed by Travers et al. [81] for isolation of Bacillus thuringiensis, which makes use of ethyl (ethyl selection), B. thuringiensis is selectively inhibited by sodium acetate (0.25 M), while most unwanted spore-forming species allowed to germinate. Then all non-sporulating bacteria were eliminated by heat treatment at 80 ° C for 3 min. Subsequently, surviving spores are germinated on enriched agar medium. Even if some other species of Bacillus are also selected by this method, such as B. sphaericus and B. cereus, this technique is commonly used for studying the diversity worldwide of B. thuringiensis [22, 77]. A modification to the method promotes greater sporulation spore production by stimulating shock before applying stress. For example, some authors suggest suspending one gram of soil in 50 mL of sporulation medium after incubation at 37 ° C under stirring for 48 hours before killing vegetative cells by heat treatment [80], while others proposed in soil suspensions incubate the culture broth at different temperatures for 5 days to allow better maturation of spores [77].

2.4. Biochemical identification

Biochemical test were the traditional method for bacteria identification to specie level, after that, strains are located at the genus taxonomically, based on characteristics of colony growth in artificial medium, form cell unit, presence, number and orientation of locomotive units, Gram stain, spore form and specific environmental conditions of growth and finally the specific use of carbon sources (biochemical tests) gave its metabolic diversity (Table 2 and 3).

B. amylolique-faciensB. pumilusB. subtilisB. licheniformisB. thuringiensisB. cereusB. mycoidesB. fastidiosusB. firmusB. lentusB. megateriumB. bodiusB. antracis
Cell diameter"/>1.0 um----++++--+-+
Parasporal crystals----d--------
Anaerobic growth---++++-----+
Voges Proskauer test+-++d++NG----+
egg yolk lecithin’s----+++-----+
growth in lysozyme-ddd+++ND----+
Acid from
l- arabinosed+++---NG-+d--
hydrolysis of
nitrate reduction+-+++++-ddd-+
degradation of tyrosine----ND+ND-d-d+d
Growth in 7% NaCl+++++dd-+ddND+
Growth at
Utilization of

Table 2.

Differential characteristics of Bacillus species with ellipsoidal spores (Group I), [39]. += 90 or more of strains positive catalase; - = 10 or more of strains negative catalese; d= substancial proportion of specie differ; ND= Not done; NG= no growth.

2.5. Molecular identification

Bacillus species with diverse physiological traits require development of biochemical tests for identification [82]. But advances in chromatographic analysis using whole cell fatty acid methyl esters (FAME) profiles allows doing this technique sufficiently sensitive and reliable for grouping Bacillus to specie level [83-84]. Identification has become even more sensitive, by analysis of ribosomal DNA regions (16S rDNA) sequencing [85-87], and sequence analysis of gyrase B (gyrB) which has proved immensely valuable information for phylogenetic analysis of bacteria [88-90]. Using 16S rDNA sequence, have been identified 5 groups within the genus Bacillus, where group 1 (group B subitilis) comprises species B. amyloliquefaciens, B. subtilis, B. pumilus and B. licheniformis [9, 39, 91].

Test Bsy Ba Bl B1 B3 B9 B13
Gram staining +z + + ++++
Flagella staining + + + ++++
RYU Test - - - ----
Oxidase - - - ----
Catalase + + + ++++
Oxidation + + - +-++
Fermentation + + + ++++
Motility + + + ++++
Spore Posicion
Terminal - - - ----
Central + + + ++++
Subterminal - - - ----
Colony Growth:
45ºC + + + ++++
65ºC - + - +---
pH Growth at 5.7 + + + ++++
NaCl Growth:
7% + + + ++++
5% + - + -+++
3% + - + -+++
citrate utilization + + + ++++
Anaerobic growth in
- + + ++++
Acidic Forms:
Arabinose + + + ++++
Manitol + - + -+++
Xylose + + + ndndndnd
Voges-Proskauer + + + ++++
Hydrolysis starch + + + ++++

Table 3.

Results on identification of Bacillus isolates B1, B3, B9 and B13 by biochemical tests, [9], and Bs = Bacillus subtilis, Ba = B. amyloliquefaciens; Bl = B. licheniformis. Positive test Z = +; negative = -, nd = not determined. [9].

2.6. Antifungal effect in vitro, greenhouse and field

Bacillus species have been reported also as growth promoters of certain crops [92], and with antifungal properties, for example B. amyloliquefaciens has been reported as a specie with antifungal activity against Colletotrichum dematium, Colletotrichum lagenarium, Rosellinia necatrix, Pyricularia oryzae, Agrobacterium tumefaciens, Xanthomonas campestris pv. campestris and Xanthomonas campestris pv. vesicatoria in vitro and in vivo [93-95]; antagonistic to Botrytis elliptica, under greenhouse conditions [96]; antagonistic to Botrytis cinerea in postharvest [97], in the biological control of Rhizoctonia solani, Fusarium spp. and Pythium spp. [98], as well as inductor of resistance mechanisms in plants [99]. Bacillus licheniformis is reported as a fungicide against a variety of pathogens, both as a preventive and curative particularly leaf spots and blights, and a growth-promoting bacteria with production likely gibberellins [100]. Bacillus subtilis is the most studied and has been reported as growth promoter and antagonistic to a variety of pathogens such as Phytophthora cactorum, Sclerotium cepivorum, Fusarium oxysporum, Rhizoctonia solani, Alternaria carthami, Phytophthora capsici, and Fusarium solani among others, in different cultures and evaluated in vitro, greenhouse and field level [101-103], so that Bacillus strains can be using as an alternative in biological control for management plant disease.

2.6.1. In vitro studies

Results of in vitro research using Bacillus spp. as biocontrol agent against various soil pathogens, have reported positive responses through observing a negative effect on pathogen growth (Figure 1), per example against Alternaria dauci and Rhizoctonia solani, foliage and soil pathogens, respectively. In the Table 4 and 5, are showed some effect on pathogen mycelia inhibition by action of Bacillus, up to 50% compared to treatment control. Furthermore, in the case of A. dauci, greater control was observed with biocontrol agents compared to chemical treatment.

Treatments Mycelia Inhibition (%)
Strain Bacillus B3*35.55 a
Strain Bacillus B940.44 ab
Strain Bacillus B1529.44 ab
L. tridentata extract (4000 ppm)22.22 b
L. tridentata extract (2000 ppm)11.11 c
Witness 1 0 d

Table 4.

In vitro mycelia inhibition of Rhizoctonia solani with Bacillus spp. strains and Larrea tridentata extract. * Summated dozes of Bacillus strains were 1x106 cfu / ml, 1 without agrochemicals, [46]. Values in the same column followed by different letters are significantly at p <0.05.

Treatments Mycelia inhibitions (%)
Strain Bacillus B1*53.44ª
Strain Bacillus B348.44b
Strain Bacillus B940.31c
Strain Bacillus B1346.25b
Strain Bacillus B150f
Strains Bacillus Mix0f
Q-L 2000-2000 ppm14.06d
Q-L 2000-10004.06e
Q-L 1000-20001.88ef
Q-L 1000-10000f
Witness1 0f

Table 5.

In vitro mycelia growth inhibition of Alternaria dauci by Bacillus spp. and chitosan-Larrea (Q-L) suspensions. * Strains of Bacillus subtilis. Values in the same column followed by different letters are significantly at p <0.05, [44].


Figure 1.

Effect B. subtilis in inhibition of mycelia growth of Fusarium sp., Alternaria dauci and Rhizoctonia solani.

2.6.2. Greenhouse studies

Results under greenhouse conditions, present good evidence of Bacillus as biocontrol source for pathogens involved in diseases of root and plant foliage, to cause a decrease in disease development in both incidence and severity. In table 6 is showed that application of Bacillus on carrot foliage allowed a control of A. dauci incidence up to 25%, which represents a control to 2 times more than the chemical treatment used for its control.

Incidence Severity
Treatments %
Strain Bacillus B125d0.5 de
Strain Bacillus B30e0 e
Strain Bacillus B925d0.5 de
Strain Bacillus B1325d0.5 de
Strain Bacillus B1550c1 d
Strains Bacillus Mix50c1 d
Q-L 2000-2000 ppm50c3 c
Fungicides synthetics Mix*75b4.24 b
Witness100ª6.75 a

Table 6.

Product effect of Bacillus based biological products and chemicals on incidence and severity of Alternaria dauci on carrot plants under greenhouse conditions. * Chlorothalonil, iprodione, propiconazole, thiabendazole and fluazinam, [44].

Likewise Bacillus use has favored not only reduction of symptoms and therefore incidence, but also helps to promote plant growth, which is expressed in greater plant height, as shown in Figure 2, there is an increase in tomato plants height by effect of a microcapsule formulation of Bacillus applied in the management of disease caused by F. oxysporum and R. solani, in contrast to the use of synthetic chemicals [104].


Figure 2.

Average fruit yield of tomato plants cv. Floradade under greenhouse conditions subjected to different treatments with microcapsules containing strains of Bacillus subtilis, a chemical control (TQ) and a blank (TA).

2.6.3. Field experience

Most research has been conducted in laboratory or greenhouse, and virtually no field-level assessments have been reported. A study carried out using Bacillus spp. for control of diseases caused by soil fungi including: F. oxysporum, R. solani and P. capsici in pepper and tomato crops allowed control of diseases incidence as seen in Table 7, use of Bacillus at transplanting can reduce disease incidence in contrast to traditional treatments (fungicide application) as Folpat, Captan, Mancozeb much as 64% and 72% compared to untreated control with the most efficient strain, only 36 and 40 respectively with less efficient biological treatment.

Harvest 1 B/TT B/T Harvest 2 B/TT B/T Harvest 3 B/TT B/T
Treatments Incidence % Incidence % Incidence %
Bacillus B12.71 a363310.87 c331919.59 c3420
Bacillus B22.71 a363313.04 c392328.80 c5030
Bacillus B93.80 a504711.41 c342020.65 c3621
Bacillus B134.89 a646011.41 c342025.54 c4426
Bacillus Mix3.25 a434015.76 c482820.11 c3521
Traditional treatment 7.61 a1009333.13 b1005957.61 b10060
Control8.15 a10710055.97 a16910096.74 a168100

Table 7.

Effect of Bacillus and commercial products on root rot incidence in Capsicum annum at different harvest times, [9]. Variance analysis used transformed data by arcsine. B/TT= Bacillus vs traditional treatments; B/T = Bacillus vs Control [9].

Furthermore, the suppressive effect was maintained over time or among harvest times, this indicates that Bacillus strains suppressed disease caused by soil fungi and maintained their remedial effect through harvest times as seen in Table 8 where disease incidence and severity was lower than that offered by the traditional treatment performed by the farmer.

Treatments Incidence Severity
Strain Bacillus B12.1 c2.35 b
Strain Bacillus B33.05 ac3.10 ab
Strain Bacillus B93.00 ac3.05 ab
Strain Bacillus B132.75 bc2.85 b
Strains Bacillus mix2.90 ac3.00 ab
Treatments Fungicides3.5 ab3.25 ab
Witness3.85 a3.85 a

Table 8.

Effect of four strains of Bacillus and commercial products on severity of wilt and root rot by Fusarium spp., Rhizoctonia solani and Phytophthora capsici, on pepper (Capsicum annum) using scales to wilt and root rot, [9].

In the case of tomato same behavior was observed for disease development with respect to the presence of Bacillus, Table 9.

Treatments Incidence (%) Severity
Bacillus B10.0 d0.0 c
Bacillus J10.0 d0.0 c
Bacillus M212.0.c1.5 c
B1J1M2 Mix0.0 b0.0 c
QT*27.0 b3.5 b
AT**75.0 a5.0 a
CV (%)10.41.2

Table 9.

Disease incidence and severity at harvest time of tomato plants cv. Florade subjected to different treatments with microcapsules containing strains of Bacillus subtilis. *Chemical control treatments; ** Absolute control treatment, Values with same letters area not statistically different (Tukey, p<0.01). [104].

The application in field of Bacillus sp on melon crops (Figure 3) for the management of disease caused by F. oxysporum, showed an effect in reducing disease incidence in 41% compared to the conventional chemical treatment (TA), and increases in yields of 26.5% higher than TA, however there were no significant differences in the brix degrees, consistency of fruit, but an increase in 12% in the number of fruits and 20% in the length guide, leaves and stem diameter was observed [105].


Figure 3.

Treatments effect with Bacillus subtilis in fields on melon crops with high incidence of Fusarium oxysporum.

2.7. Effect on plant development and growth

The effects obtained by applying Bacillus as fungicide were positive for crop development, because Bacillus stimulated biomass production, increased number of flowers and fruiting mooring, as seen in Table 10, where Bacillus was applied, plants had an increase in height, flowering and fruiting compared to traditional crop management through use of synthetic agrochemicals. It is noteworthy that use only at the time of transplantation Bacillus and 20 days after the second application, which is manifested by loss of effect at 84 days, but yet still persists pathogen control, before such situation should be applied in successive moments to keep a Bacillus greater crop protection coverage.

56 days 84 days
Height Flowers Fruits Height Flowers Fruits Frutos
Treatments (cm) (No.) (No.) (cm) (No.) (No.)
Bacillus B139.95 ab3.60 a1.25 a61.20 ab13.35 a6.00 a
Bacillus B342.75 a3.60 a1.05 a60.05 ab10.70 a5.05 a
Bacillus B941.20 ab3.05 a1.05 a59.40 ab9.59 a4.50 a
Bacillus B1343.75 a3.50 a1.35 a66.40 a14.35 a4.90 a
Bacillus mix40.90 ab3.15 a1.40 a63.55 ab12.10 a6.00 a
Traditional treatments35.30 ab2.75 a0.60 a58.10 ab10.45 a5.95 a
Control32.80 b2.65 a0.55 a55.55 b12.00 a5.00 a

Table 10.

Effect of Bacillus strains on pepper (Capsicum annuum) cv. Caballero development, at 56 and 84 days after inoculation under field conditions. [9].

In a similar way, positive effects of Bacillus application were observed on crop yield, by prevent soil pathogen attack. In Table 11, is showed that application of Bacillus increased pepper yields in contrast to the traditional crop management by up to 74% cumulative assessment in three harvest times.

Treatment Cut 1
Cut 2
Cut 3
Yield (kg) B/TT
Bacillus B1 4.38 a1004.01 a1506.69 a42115.10 a174
Bacillus B3 3.32 ab763.05 ab1144.01 b25210.39 b120
Bacillus B92.73 ab622.40 ab904.04 b2549.17 b106
Bacillus B133.79 ab863.41 ab1274.01 b25211.16 ab129
Bacillus mix3.14 ab722.80 ab1044.30 b27010.25 b118
Traditional Treatments4.39 a1002.68 ab1001.59 c1008.67 b100
Control1.79 b411.71 b640.57 c364.08 c47

Table 11.

Effect of Bacillus strains on pepper (Capsicum annuum) cv. Caballero development at 99, 113 and 146 days after inoculation under field conditions. B / TT = Bacillus vs. traditional treatment, [9].

Bacillus favors growth of different plant parts such as stems and leaf area (Tables 12 and 13, Figure 4).


Figure 4.

Effect of Bacillus subtilis in the biomass production of pepper plants (root). Treatments Bacillus and treatments without Bacillus.

Treatments Height (cm) Leaf area (cm2)
Bacillus B1119.47 a6857.01 b
Bacillus J1118.65 a7762.92 a
Bacillus M2102.95 b5393.32 b
Mixture B1J1M2121.05 a7022.90 a
*TQ99.05 b4007.51 c
**TA98.9 b4302.63 bc
CV (%)3.119.29

Table 12.

Height and leaf area of tomato plants cv. Floradade subjected to different treatments with microencapsulated strains of Bacillus subtilis. *: Chemical control treatment; **Absolute control treatment, Values with same letters are not statistically different (Tukey, p≤0.01), [104].

Treatments Leaves Stems Roots
Bacillus B1116.41 a30.31 ab31.28 c
Bacillus J1107.57 a31.92 ab38.76 b
Bacillus M287.67 b27.90 b32.04 c
Mixture B1J1M294.51 b34.69 a96.63 a
*TQ1 c28.06 b33.38 bc
**TA26.21 d14.57 c13.92 d
CV (%)6.548.326.97

Table 13.

Biomass (g) production of tomato plants cv. Floradade subjected to different treatments with microcapsules containing strains of Bacillus subtilis. *Chemical control treatment; **: Absolute control treatment. Values with same letters are not statistically different (Tukey, p≤0.01), [104].

3. Conclusions

Use and application of biological control agents, such as Bacillus spp. prevents negative effects of pathogen attack on crops, providing an attractive option for sustainable agriculture due to their stimulating effects on plant growth, biomass production and its potential to increase plant production. In this chapter are mentioned clear and efficient biocontrol of plant pathogenic fungi by Bacillus strains, as evidence of lower disease incidence and severity. For that reason, it is suggested that B. subtilis can be incorporated to integrated management disease, where these strain may be used as biocontrol agent as well as biofertilizer.


F.C.R., wants to thank to CONACYT for all financial support during his postgraduate studies.


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