Date of this Version
Bacterial diseases of plants are less prevalent than diseases caused by fungi and viruses. Antimicrobials for prophylactic treatment of bacterial diseases of plants are limited in availability, use, and efficacy, and therapeutic use is largely ineffective. Most applications are by spray treatments in orchards. Monitoring and surveillance for drug resistance are not routinely done. In the United States, data on use of antimicrobials for treatment of bacterial diseases of plants are limited to streptomycin and oxytetracycline. Resistance to streptomycin has become widespread among bacterial phytopathogens; no resistance among these bacteria has yet been reported for oxytetracycline. No human health effects have been documented since inception of use of antimicrobials in plants in the 1950s. Transfer of antimicrobial resistance from marker genes in transgenic plants to bacteria has not been documented under natural conditions in field-grown plants. However, antimicrobial-resistance genes are being eliminated from use as marker genes because of concerns about possible transfer from plant genomes back to bacteria, with further horizontal transfer to the bacteria in the environment, or from plant genomes to animals by plant consumption. No new antimicrobials are expected to be used in plant agriculture because of high costs of development, regulatory constraints, and environmental and human health concerns. Alternatives to antimicrobials, such as biocontrol agents, transgenic plants, and novel chemicals, are being developed and marketed, although their efficacy remains to be determined.