Certis Introduces LifeGard Biological Plant Activator

Published online: Jan 11, 2017 Fertilizer, New Products
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The U.S. EPA has registered LifeGard WG, the first foliar-applied biological plant activator available on the market, for use on potatoes, sugarbeets, fruiting vegetables, pecans and other specialty agricultural crops to control diseases.

Introduced by the biopesticide company Certis USA, LifeGard is a naturally occurring bacterium that triggers an induced systemic resistance (ISR) response in plants. This ISR response mode of action reflects a new direction taken by a pesticide market that has rapidly increased its demand for biopesticides. LifeGard is NOP-approved and OMRI-listed, is residue exempt, has a four-hour REI, can be applied the day of harvest, and is safe for bees and other pollinators.

“LifeGard represents a new class of biological disease control agents,” says Tim Damico, Certis USA’s executive vice president-NAFTA. “As our field development program expands, and as the trial data accumulate, we are amazed by the spectrum of efficacy and market potential of LifeGard.”

The active ingredient of LifeGard is a naturally occurring bacterium (Bacillus mycoides isolate J) shown by discoverer Barry Jacobsen of Montana State University to trigger a plant’s natural immune response to pathogenic fungi, bacteria and viruses in ISR. As Jacobsen explains, plants respond to initial detection of potentially pathogenic microorganisms by “switching on” resistance genes, causing a cascade of metabolic responses to limit infection and disease development.

While some microbial biofungicides have been reported to also have moderate ISR activity, LifeGard is unique in that it works entirely as a microbial ISR activator with no direct antagonistic effect on plant pathogens. LifeGard induces the same genetic resistance pathway as the class of chemical ISR inducers known as benzothiadiazoles, but for longer periods and with lower risk of phytotoxicity.

These characteristics make LifeGard a valuable tool for use in fungicide resistance management programs.

“Because LifeGard acts so differently from most fungicides, with no direct action against a specific pathogen target site, it has great potential for use in disease management programs designed to reduce the risk and consequences of fungicide resistance,” Damico says. “In fact, Dr. Jacobsen’s field work over the past decade has already demonstrated the utility of LifeGard in programs for management of fungicide-resistant Cercospora leaf spot in sugarbeets, for example.”

LifeGard has been found to be compatible with a wide range of pesticides, including triazole, EDBC and QoI class fungicides, and a wide range of insecticides, making it ideal for use in integrated pest management programs. Certis USA found disease control to be equal to commercial standards when LifeGard is used in combination with low rates of fungicides or in alternating programs.

Certis USA partnered with Montana State University-Bozeman and Montana BioAgriculture Inc. in a global license agreement to develop, manufacture and commercialize the LifeGard technology worldwide on a wide range of crops and diseases. Certis USA was selected to manufacture and market LifeGard because of its expertise in fermentation, downstream processing and formulation of biopesticides.