The development of new biocontrol products against plant diseases requires screening of high numbers of candidate antagonists. Antagonists for commercial use have to fulfill many different requirements. Besides being active against the specific targeted plant pathogens they must be safe and cost-effective. Important criteria besides pathogenic efficacy are market size, ecological characteristics, production costs, safety, environmental risks, and possibilities for intellectual property protection. A stepwise screening program considering these very different aspects is proposed. Research highlights ¿ Stepwise screening of microorganisms for commercial use in biocontrol. ¿ Multi-disciplinary approach considering many aspects besides control efficacy. ¿ Examples for protocols for use in screening programmes illustrating this approach. Article Outline 1. Introduction 2. Screening steps 2.1. Step 1: Assessment of targeted crop, disease and markets 2.2. Step 2: Origin and isolation of candidate antagonists 2.3. Step 3: Preliminary assessments in rapid-throughput screening systems 2.4. Step 4: Identification of candidate antagonists and database mining 2.5. Step 5: Efficacy testing against pathogens on plants 2.6. Step 6: Preliminary tests on mass production 2.7. Step 7: Development and testing of a pilot formulation and estimation of registration costs 2.8. Step 8: Field testing and upscaling mass production 2.9. Step 9: Integration into cropping systems Discussion
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