The increasing concern about the usage of antimicrobials and other chemicals in food production due to their negative environmental impacts and health risks led to the search for the alternative means of controlling plant diseases. One of the most promising approaches is the use of microbial antagonists that prevent the growth of pathogens. A few strains of the yeast Aurebasidium pullulans are already used for pre- and postharvest biocontrol on a commercial scale, but the currently used strains are not particularly adapted to the relevant stressful conditions.
Here we wish to exploit the rich repertoire of Aureobasidium spp. strains from various stressful environments for the screening of their biocontrol potential together with their enhanced stress tolerance and to characterize phenotypes and genotypes of the best candidates for future use in the field as well as for post-harvest treatments. Also, we will develop a method for the efficient environmental monitoring of those specific Aureobasidium spp. strains.
The application of new strains of A. pullulans or A. subglaciale with improved antagonistic activity against the most problematic plant pathogens and increased tolerance to environmental stress (e.g. low temperatures, UV radiation, low nutrient availability and desiccation) would be a valuable tool for the integrated and biological/organic farming where the resources available for pest control are limited. To reach this goal is of utmost importance since a sustainable production of high-quality and healthy food is one of the most important challenges of the modern world.