An updated synthesis of market trends and ongoing research.
Microbial biopesticides include several microorganisms like bacteria, fungi, baculoviruses, and nematode-associated bacteria acting against invertebrate pests in agro-ecosystems. The biopesticide sector is experiencing a significant growth and many discoveries are being developed into new biopesticidal products that are fueling a growing global market offer. Following a few decades of successful use of the entomopathogenic bacterium Bacillus thuringiensis and a few other microbial species, recent academic and industrial efforts have led to the discovery of new microbial species and strains, and of their specific toxins and virulence factors. Many of these have, therefore, been developed into commercial products. Bacterial entomopathogens include several Bacillaceae, Serratia, Pseudomonas, Yersinia, Burkholderia, Chromobacterium, Streptomyces, and Saccharopolyspora species, while fungi comprise different strains of Beauveria bassiana, B. brongniartii, Metarhizium anisopliae, Verticillium, Lecanicillium, Hirsutella, Paecilomyces, and Isaria species. Baculoviruses are species-specific and refer to niche products active against chewing insects, especially Lepidopteran caterpillars. Entomopathogenic nematodes (EPNs) mainly include species in the genera Heterorhabditis and Steinernema associated with mutualistic symbiotic bacteria belonging to the genera Photorhabdus and Xenorhabdus. An updated representation of the current knowledge on microbial biopesticides and of the availability of active substances that can be used in integrated pest management programs in agro-ecosystems is reported here.