Biocontrol of Fire Blight

Biocontrol of fire blight is regarded as a promising alternative to antibiotics. Dr. Kyekyoon Kim and Dr. Hyungsoo Choi from the University of Illinois have developed a biocontrol for the treatment of fire blight utilizing microencapsulated E325. They have demonstrated the effectiveness of Pantoea agglomerans strain E325 (E325) encapsulated in alginate microcapsules (AMCs) in suppressing the growth of Erwinia amylovora strain Ea153 (Ea153) at low relative humidity (RH). Furthermore, the survival of encapsulated E325 during freeze-drying and storage was investigated in the presence of lyoprotectants to improve preparation of starter cultures. The encapsulated E325 exhibited the following advantages: (1) maintenance of E325 population size in moisture- and nutrient-poor environments including hypanthium, the main infection site, (2) improved suppressive activity against Ea153 at low RH, and (3) improved survivability of freeze-dried E325 for long-term storage. This technology is a demonstration that the microcapsule-mediated delivery of biocontrol agents may serve as a viable strategy to manage fire blight of apple and pear. 

Benefits 
• Allows for a sustained release 
• Does not have to be directly applied to specific parts of the flower 
• Works in a wide range of environmental conditions 
• Prevents the development of antibiotic resistant strains of Erwinia amylovora 
• Improved survivability of freeze-dried E25 for long-term storage