Microbial Weapons for Agricultural Production
During the early 20th century, soil microbiology and ecology studies led to the identification of many microorganisms that act as antagonists or hyperparasites of pathogens and insect pests. This was the origin of a popular research topic, biological control, the use of an organism or organisms to reduce disease (caused by plant pathogens) or damage (caused by insect pests). This often resulted in the release of several predators, parasitoids, and pathogens of insects and plants until the mid 1900’s. Many showed promise in field-scale inoculations, but few were developed commercially because of the rapid adoption of less expensive and more consistently performing chemical pesticides.