Xanthomonas bacteriophages: a review of their biology and biocontrol applications in agriculture
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Phytopathogenic bacteria are economically important because they affect crop yields and threaten the livelihoods of farmers worldwide. The genus Xanthomonas is particularly significant because it is associated with some plant diseases that cause tremendous loss in yields of globally essential crops. Current management practices are ineffective, unsustainable and harmful to natural ecosystems. Bacteriophage (phage) biocontrol for plant disease management has been of particular interest from the early nineteenth century to date. Xanthomonas phage research for plant disease management continues to demonstrate promising results under laboratory and field conditions. AgriPhage has developed phage products for the control of Xanthomonas campestris pv. vesicatoria and Xanthomonas citri subsp. citri. These are causative agents for tomato, pepper spot and speck disease as well as citrus canker disease. Phage-mediated biocontrol is becoming a viable option because phages occur naturally and are safe for disease control and management. Thorough knowledge of biological characteristics of Xanthomonas phages is vital for developing effective biocontrol products. This review covers Xanthomonas phage research highlighting aspects of their ecology, biology and biocontrol applications.