Fungal Secondary Metabolites for Biocontrol and Sustainable Agriculture
Soil-borne pathogenic fungi are responsible for severe damage to many agricultural and horticultural crops worldwide (Rossman, 2009). Commonly, plant diseases are controlled by using chemical pesticides or fungicides. However, these chemicals are proven harmful for the environment and have created a path to the development of biological control agents (BCAs), which is a potential alternative to the chemical pesticides. The selective activity of numerous fungal biomolecules like secondary metabolites against specific infection stages without accompanying toxicity against plant pathogens indicate directions for the development of future natural product-derived fungicides which are more easily degradable in the environment and possess fewer non-target effects. Such substances are produced by many saprotrophic and endophytic fungi in pure culture (Thines et al., 2004). Entomopathogenic fungi were among the
first organisms to be used for the biological control of pests. More than 700 species of fungi from 90 genera are pathogenic to insects. Some examples of fungi and its biomolecules acting as biocontrol agents are given in Table 10.1.