Mutual relationships between soils and biological carrier systems

C. Zohar-Perez, I. Chet, A. Nussinovitch*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


Improved viability and antagonistic activity of biocontrol agents during soil inoculation is of crucial importance to their effective application. The chitinolytic bacterium Serratia marcescens was used as a model organism to study the efficacy of freeze-dried alginate beads (in comparison to their non-dried counterparts) as possible carriers for immobilized biocontrol agents. The release of bacteria and chitinolytic enzyme from alginate beads, before and during their application in soil, was examined, and the beads' physical properties characterized. Dispersal of the alginate bead-entrapped S. marcescens in the soil resulted in high soil cell densities throughout the 35 days of the experiment. Chitin inclusion in the beads resulted in significantly higher chitinolytic activity of S. marcescens, increased dry-bead porosity and decreased stiffness. Rehydration of the dried beads (after immersion in soil) resulted in a sixfold increase in weight due to water absorption. No significant differences were found in bacterial count inside the non-dried (gel) versus dried beads. However, higher cell densities and chitinase activity were detected in soil containing dried beads with chitin than in that containing their non-dried counterparts. The biological performance of S. marcescens was examined in the greenhouse: a free cell suspension reduced bean (Phaseolus vulgaris L) disease by 10%, while immobilized bacteria found in the dried, chitin-containing beads reduced disease by 60%.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)54-60
Number of pages7
JournalBiotechnology and Bioengineering
Issue number1
StatePublished - 5 Oct 2005


  • Alginate beads
  • Biocontrol
  • Chitinolytic activity
  • Physical properties
  • Serratia marcescens


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