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Chitinase-producing bacteria and their role in biocontrol

1 Department of Molecular Cell and Developmental Biology, Molecular Biology Institute, University of California, Los Angeles, 90095-1606, USA
2 Departamento de Microbiología y Genética, Universidad de Salamanca, Salamanca, Spain

Special Issue: Plant probiotic bacteria: solutions to feed the World

Chitin is an important component of the exteriors of insects and fungi. Upon degradation of chitin by a number of organisms, severe damage and even death may occur in pathogens and pests whose external surfaces contain this polymer. Currently, chemical fungicides and insecticides are the major means of controlling these disease-causing agents. However, due to the potential harm that these chemicals cause to the environment and to human and animal health, new strategies are being developed to replace or reduce the use of fungal- and pest-killing compounds in agriculture. In this context, chitinolytic microorganisms are likely to play an important role as biocontrol agents and pathogen antagonists and may also function in the control of postharvest rot. In this review, we discuss the literature concerning chitin and the basic knowledge of chitin-degrading enzymes, and also describe the biocontrol effects of chitinolytic microorganisms and their potential use as more sustainable pesticides and fungicides in the field.
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