In agriculture, microbial tools including biological fertilizers and biological control agents (i.e., biocontrol agents), have been used by mankind for several hundreds of years, and provide beneficial results for plant growth and health, respectively. In the broadest sense, the biological control can be defined as the use of microbial inoculants potentially replacing harmful pesticides, to control pests, plant pathogens and weeds. In this regard, both human activities and the use of resistant plants may be included.
The formulation of biocontrol agents from living organisms has been reported using several experimental conditions in laboratory scale. However, a large number of studies have shown that the biocontrol capacity can result from production of antibiotic compounds, or enzymes capable of fungal cell wall lysis and preventing pathogens from infecting the plant.
As a source of production of antibiotics and antifungal enzymes (e.g., chitinases, cellulases β-glucanases, proteases, lipases, etc.), biocontrol strains-based research is developing rapidly through the innovation and improvement of raw materials, formulations, preparation process, method for extracting, and production technology, as well as applications. This is evident also from the elevation in the number of patent applications filed each year worldwide in this area of biocontrol agents research and development.
This work, in the form of a patent analysis, which is a family of techniques for studying the information present within and attached to patents, describes the state of the art by introducing what has been patented in relation to biocontrol agents regarding to preparation methods/process, formulations and applications. Furthermore, this work gives a competitive analysis of the past, present and future trends in the biological control and leads to various recommendations that could help one to plan and innovate research strategy.