Agriculture - - Research -

A PROJECT funded by the Philip­pine Coun­cil for Agri­cul­ture, Aquatic and Nat­u­ral Re­sources Re­search and De­vel­op­ment of the Depart­ment of Sci­ence and Tech­nol­ogy (DOSTPCAARRD) will ex­plore the po­ten­tial of bac­te­rio­phages as biopes­ti­cides for soft rot, a ma­jor disease of veg­eta­bles in the Philip­pines.

The project is led by the Univer­sity of the Philip­pines Los Baños (UPLB) in col­lab­o­ra­tion with the Depart­ment of Agri­cul­tureRe­gional Crop Pro­tec­tion Clus­ters, Benguet State Univer­sity (BSU), and lo­cal gov­ern­ment units.

A bac­te­rio­phage or phage is a virus that in­fects bac­te­ria. It in­jects its ge­netic ma­te­rial past the bac­te­rial cell wall and pro­duces mul­ti­ple prog­e­nies in­side the cell. The bac­terium rup­tures and dies as a re­sult, while the phage prog­e­nies spread and in­vade other bac­te­ria.

Phages have highly spe­cific tar­get hosts and are ef­fec­tive against an­tibi­otic- and heavy metal-re­sis­tant bac­te­ria. They are cheap and easy to pre­pare. As bio­con­trol agents, phages may lower the cost of crop pro­tec­tion, which will ben­e­fit veg­etable farm­ers.

Ap­pli­ca­tion of bac­te­rio­phages to veg­eta­bles may cut the use of chem­i­cal pes­ti­cides and thus, lessen the chem­i­cal residues on veg­eta­bles. Con­trol­ling soft rot through the use of phages may also ex­tend the shelf life of veg­eta­bles.

Bac­te­rio­phages are al­ready be­ing used in the US and Europe for food-borne pathogens and are gen­er­ally re­garded as safe.

No ef­fec­tive con­trol strate­gies against soft rot of veg­eta­bles in the Philip­pines ex­ist at present. (LEILANI D. PELEGRINA AND MA. NOVA R. NGUYEN, PCAARRD FARMNEWS)

Bac­te­rial soft rot of cab­bage and tomato (be­low, cen­ter).

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