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Title:
METHOD OF CONTROLLING FUNGAL INFECTIONS IN PLANTS
Document Type and Number:
WIPO Patent Application WO/2018/042425
Kind Code:
A1
Abstract:
A method of controlling a fungus infection in a plant susceptible to Botrytis infection is provided. The method comprising applying to the plant an effective amount of a phenylalanine or an analog thereof for controlling said fungus infection in the plant.

Inventors:
OREN-SHAMIR MICHAL (IL)
OLIVA MORAN (IL)
LEWINSOHN EFRAIM (IL)
ALKAN NOAM (IL)
ELAD YIGAL (IL)
Application Number:
IL2017/050958
Publication Date:
March 08, 2018
Filing Date:
August 28, 2017
Export Citation:
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Assignee:
THE STATE OF ISRAEL MINISTRY OF AGRICULTURE & RURAL DEVELOPMENT AGRICULTURAL RES ORGANIZATION ARO VO (IL)
International Classes:
A01N37/44; A01P3/00
Domestic Patent References:
WO1997019908A11997-06-05
WO2006004433A22006-01-12
WO2010049405A12010-05-06
WO1997016969A11997-05-15
WO1996020596A11996-07-11
Foreign References:
FR2405650A11979-05-11
Other References:
OROS, GYULA ET AL.: "Antimicrobial activity of o-carboranylalanine", AMINO ACIDS, vol. 17.4, 31 December 1999 (1999-12-31), pages 357 - 368, XP055471638
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
EHRLICH, Gal et al. (IL)
Download PDF:
Claims:
WHAT IS CLAIMED IS:

1. A method of controlling a fungus infection in a plant susceptible thereto, the method comprising applying to the plant an effective amount of a phenylalanine or an analog thereof for controlling said fungus infection in the plant.

2. A method of controlling a Botrytis infection in a plant susceptible to Botrytis infection, the method comprising applying to the plant an effective amount of a phenylalanine or an analog thereof for controlling said Botrytis infection in the plant.

3. The method of claim 1, wherein said fungus is selected from the division Ascomycota and Oomycota.

4. The method of claim 3, wherein said fungus is from the division Ascomycota.

5. The method of claim 4, wherein said fungus is selected from the group consisting of Botrytis, Plenodomus tracheiphilus syn Phoma tracheiphila, Sclerotinia sclerotiorum and Alternaria.

6. The method of claim 3, wherein said fungus is from the division Oomycota.

7. The method of claim 6, wherein said fungus is Pythium aphanidermatum.

8. The method of claim 2 or 5, wherein said Botrytis is selected from a Botrytis species selected from the group consisting of B. cinerea, B. fabae, B. aclada and B. pseudocinerea.

9. The method of any one of claims 1-8, wherein said applying comprises pre-harvest applying.

10. The method of any one of claims 1-8, wherein said applying comprises post-harvest applying.

11. The method of any one of claims 1-8, wherein said applying comprises pre-harvest applying and not post-harvest applying.

12. The method of any one of claims 1-8, wherein said applying comprises post-harvest applying and not pre-harvest applying.

13. The method of any one of claims 1-12, wherein said plant is at a post- blossom stage.

14. The method of any one of claims 1-12, wherein said plant is at a blossom stage.

15. The method of any one of claims 1-12, wherein said plant is at a pre- blossom stage.

16. The method of any one of claims 1-15, wherein said plant is not an ornamental plant.

17. The method of any one of claims 1-16, wherein said plant comprises fruit.

18. The method of any one of claims 1- 17, wherein said phenylalanine or said analog is formulated in a composition selected from the group consisting of a dip, a spray or a concentrate.

19. The method of claim 18, wherein said formulated comprises a surfactant.

20. The method of any one of claims 1-18, wherein said applying is in the vicinity of or onto the roots, stems, tmnk, seed, fruits or leaves of the plant.

21. The method of any one of claims 1-20, wherein said applying is by irrigation, drenching, dipping, soaking, injection, coating or spraying.

22. The method of any one of claims 1-21, wherein said plant is selected from the group consisting of petunia, tomato, sweet basil, cucumber, avocado and lemon.

23. The method of any one of claims 1-21, wherein said plant susceptible to fungus or Botrytis infection is a cultivated fruit plant.

24. The method of claim 23, wherein said cultivated fruit plant is selected from the group consisting of strawberries, grapes, apples, blueberries, cherries.

25. The method of any one of claims 1-21, wherein said plant susceptible to Botrytis infection is selected from the group consisting of bean, cabbage, carrot, onion and cucumber.

26. The method of any one of claims 1-25, wherein said applying is in an open field.

27. The method of any one of claims 1-25, wherein said applying is in a greenhouse.

28. The method of any one of claims 1-25, wherein said applying is in a storage facility.

29. The method of any one of claims 1-28, wherein said applying comprises repeated application.

30. The method of any one of claims 1, 14, 16-29, wherein said repeated application comprises weekly administration during blossom pre-harvest.

31. The method of any one of claims 1-25, wherein said applying is post emergence.

32. The method of any one of claims 1-25, further comprises analyzing presence or absence of said fungus infection or severity.

33. The method of any one of claims 1-32, wherein a concentration of said phenylalanine or said analog is at a range of 0.01-50 mM.

34. The method of any one of claims 1-33, wherein said analog comprises tyrosine.

35. An agricultural composition comprising phenylalanine or an analog thereof and a surfactant for controlling a fungus infection in a plant.

36. An agricultural composition comprising phenylalanine and tyrosine for controlling a fungus infection in a plant.

37. The composition of claim 36 further comprising a surfactant.

38. The method of any one of claims 19-34 or the composition of claim 35 or 37, wherein said surfactant is a cationic surfactant.

39. The method of any one of claims 19-34 or the composition of claim 35 or 37, wherein said surfactant is an anionic surfactant.

40. The method of any one of claims 19-34 or the composition of claim 35 or 37, wherein said surfactant is a non-ionic surfactant.

Description:
METHOD OF CONTROLLING FUNGAL INFECTIONS IN PLANTS

FIELD AND BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

The present invention, in some embodiments thereof, relates to a method of controlling fungal infections in plants.

Plants interact with a broad range of microbial organisms throughout their life time, including pathogens. In order to support their health status and cope with pathogen challenges, plants produce a large array of chemical compounds (Scalschi et al., 2015). Botrytis spp. including B. cinerea are necrotrophic pathogens, causing rot on above-ground organs, with a wide host range of more than 1400 plant species, including many members of the Solanaceae family (Elad et ah, 2016). The Solanaceae members susceptible to Botrytis include important crops such as Solanum lycopersicum and Solanum tuberosum (Fillinger and Elad, 2016). Petunia hybrida, a Solanaceae model plant for metabolomics and fragrance studies, is susceptible to B. cinerea (Wang et ah, 2013; Elad et al, 2016).

Botrytis cinerea causes huge losses in crops during growth and storage of fruits, vegetables and cut flowers (Patel et al., 2015; Fillinger and Elad, 2016). The broad host range of B. cinerea is due to the wide range of virulence factors, including lytic enzymes and toxins (Choquer et al., 2007), as well as factors which reduce host defense and alter levels of reactive oxygen species (ROS) (Asselbergh et al., 2007; Nakajima and Akutsu, 2014; Patel et al, 2015).

Plants use a wide range of defense mechanisms to avoid infection by pathogens. These include local induced defense response, formation of local lesions with increased production of ROS, formation of antimicrobial phenolic compounds, deposition of callose and lignin, and induction of pathogenesis related (PR) protein synthesis (Lattanzio et al., 2006). Enhancement in phenol phytoalexins and other aromatic antioxidant compounds following biotic stress is the result of the induction of the shikimate pathway synthesizing aromatic amino acids (AAAs) and of downstream specific polyphenol pathways (Pandey et al., 2015; Camanes et al., 2015).

Additional background art includes:

U.S. Pat. No. 7,087,552

WO2012004795 ICS, Ferrari et al., Plant J. 2003 Jul;35(2): 193-205)

Tzin and Galili, 2010

Tzin et al., 2012a; Oliva et al., 2015

Pennycooke et al, 2005; Alon et al., 2013

Kuc, 1995;

Bais et al, 2002;

Petersen et al, 2009;

Shekarchi et al, 2012;

Song et al, 2013

Vogt, 2010; Maeda and Dudareva, 2012; Tohge et al, 2013;

Tzin et al., 2013; Tzin et al., Manela et al., 201

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

According to an aspect of some embodiments of the present invention there is provided a method of controlling a fungus infection in a plant susceptible thereto, the method comprising applying to the plant an effective amount of a phenylalanine or an analog thereof for controlling the fungus infection in the plant.

According to an aspect of some embodiments of the present invention there is provided a method of controlling a Botrytis infection in a plant susceptible to Botrytis infection, the method comprising applying to the plant an effective amount of a phenylalanine or an analog thereof for controlling the Botrytis infection in the plant.

According to some embodiments of the invention, the fungus is selected from the division Ascomycota and Oomycota.

According to some embodiments of the invention, the fungus is from the division Ascomycota.

According to some embodiments of the invention, the fungus is selected from the group consisting of Botrytis, Plenodomus tracheiphilus syn Phoma tracheiphila, Sclerotinia sclerotiorum and Alternaria.

According to some embodiments of the invention, the fungus is from the division Oomycota.

According to some embodiments of the invention, the fungus is Pythium aphanidermatum. According to some embodiments of the invention, the Botrytis is selected from a Botrytis species selected from the group consisting of B. cinerea, B. fabae, B. aclada and B. pseudocinerea.

According to some embodiments of the invention, the applying comprises pre- harvest applying.

According to some embodiments of the invention, the applying comprises post- harvest applying.

According to some embodiments of the invention, the applying comprises pre- harvest applying and not post-harvest applying.

According to some embodiments of the invention, the applying comprises post- harvest applying and not pre-harvest applying.

According to some embodiments of the invention, the plant is at a post-blossom stage.

According to some embodiments of the invention, the plant is at a blossom stage. According to some embodiments of the invention, the plant is at a pre-blossom stage.

According to some embodiments of the invention, the plant is not an ornamental plant.

According to some embodiments of the invention, the plant comprises fruit. According to some embodiments of the invention, the phenylalanine or the analog is formulated in a composition selected from the group consisting of a dip, a spray or a concentrate.

According to some embodiments of the invention, the formulated comprises a surfactant.

According to some embodiments of the invention, the applying is in the vicinity of or onto the roots, stems, trunk, seed, fruits or leaves of the plant.

According to some embodiments of the invention, the applying is by irrigation, drenching, dipping, soaking, injection, coating or spraying.

According to some embodiments of the invention, the plant is selected from the group consisting of petunia, tomato, sweet basil, cucumber, avocado and lemon.

According to some embodiments of the invention, the plant susceptible to fungus or Botrytis infection is a cultivated fruit plant. According to some embodiments of the invention, the cultivated fruit plant is selected from the group consisting of strawberries, grapes, apples, blueberries, cherries.

According to some embodiments of the invention, the plant susceptible to Botrytis infection is selected from the group consisting of bean, cabbage, carrot, onion and cucumber.

According to some embodiments of the invention, the applying is in an open field.

According to some embodiments of the invention, the applying is in a greenhouse.

According to some embodiments of the invention, the applying is in a storage facility.

According to some embodiments of the invention, the applying comprises repeated application.

According to some embodiments of the invention, the repeated application comprises weekly administration during blossom pre-harvest.

According to some embodiments of the invention, the applying is post emergence.

According to some embodiments of the invention, the method further comprises analyzing presence or absence of the fungus infection or severity.

According to some embodiments of the invention, a concentration of the phenylalanine or the analog is at a range of 0.01-50 mM.

According to some embodiments of the invention, the analog comprises tyrosine.

According to an aspect of some embodiments of the present invention there is provided an agricultural composition comprising phenylalanine or an analog thereof and a surfactant for controlling a fungus infection in a plant.

According to an aspect of some embodiments of the present invention there is provided an agricultural composition comprising phenylalanine and tyrosine for controlling a fungus infection in a plant.

According to some embodiments of the invention, the composition further comprises a surfactant.

According to some embodiments of the invention, the surfactant is a cationic surfactant. According to some embodiments of the invention, the surfactant is an anionic surfactant.

According to some embodiments of the invention, the surfactant is a non-ionic surfactant.

Unless otherwise defined, all technical and/or scientific terms used herein have the same meaning as commonly understood by one of ordinary skill in the art to which the invention pertains. Although methods and materials similar or equivalent to those described herein can be used in the practice or testing of embodiments of the invention, exemplary methods and/or materials are described below. In case of conflict, the patent specification, including definitions, will control. In addition, the materials, methods, and examples are illustrative only and are not intended to be necessarily limiting.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE SEVERAL VIEWS OF THE DRAWING(S)

Some embodiments of the invention are herein described, by way of example only, with reference to the accompanying drawings. With specific reference now to the drawings in detail, it is stressed that the particulars shown are by way of example and for purposes of illustrative discussion of embodiments of the invention. In this regard, the description taken with the drawings makes apparent to those skilled in the art how embodiments of the invention may be practiced.

In the drawings:

FIGs. 1A-E display petunia leaves treated with Phe showing higher resistance to B. cinerea. Detached leaves were wound inoculated by B. cinerea conidia. Figure 1A -) Decay diameter of petunia detached leaves (n=25) either treated with 15 mM Phe or not treated with Phe was measured until 7 dpi. Figure IB - Leaves of non-treated and treated with 15 mM Phe at 4 days post inoculation (dpi). Figure 1C - Percentage of treated and non-treated leaves that developed either necrosis or chlorosis along disease development following artificial wound inoculation with B. cinerea (n=45). The experiment was repeated and the results are shown in Figures 1D-E, with the commercial petunia plants ('Dream Heaven') whereby necrotic area was measured at 3, 4, and 7 days post inoculation (dpi) Averages + SE results are presented for 25 leaves, as decay area in mm . Asterisks (*) represent statistically significant differences between the transgenic lines and control, using i-tests, P<0.05 (Figure ID). Photographs of leaves with and without Phe treatment at day 4 from inoculation (Figure IE upper panel), and bright field imaging of inoculated area 11 dpi (Figure IE, lower panel).

FIGs. 2A-B show the effect of 0.5-4.1 mM of phenylalanine applied by drenching (Figure 2A) or spraying (Figure 2B also showing an image of detached leaves) on the severity of gray mold (B. cinerea) in tomato, 0-8 days post infection. Disease severity is presented as percent. 0=control. Results were statistically analyzed according to Fisher's protected LSD test. Values at each evaluation date followed by a common letter are significantly not different ( <0.05).

FIGs. 2C-D show the effect of treatment of whole petunia plants ('Dream Heaven') either by spraying the plants (with the addition of 0.1% Silwett L-77 surfactant) or drenching the pots with 6mM exogenous phenylalanine (Phe) on tolerance to B. cinerea, as manifested by decay area (mm ) results are presented as average+SE.

FIGs. 3A-B show that higher Phe concentrations increase the tolerance of petunia plants to B. cinerea by spraying the plants (with the addition of 0.1% Silwett L- 77 surfactant) or drenching the pots. Phe concentrations used are 6-50 mM. Decay area (mm ) results are presented as average+SE.

FIGs. 3C-D show that higher Phe concentrations increase the tolerance of tomato plants to B. cinerea by spraying the plants (without surfactant). Phe concentrations used are 0.5-30 mM Phe. (Figure 3C). Results are presented by disease severity scoring 11 days after infection with conidia of B. cinerea, where 0=no disease and 100=total coverage by gray mold rot. Figure 3D presents the effect of Phe without and with a surfactant where Phe was applied at a rate of 0.5 mM. The addition of the surfactant resulted in a significant improvement of disease control (Figure 3D) Results are presented by disease severity scoring 11 days after infection with conidia of B. cinerea, where 0=no disease and 100=total coverage by gray mold rot. The bars represent the SE.

FIGS. 4A-B show that treatment of Ruscus branches treated with exogenous phenylalanine after they have been cut (Figure 4B) lead to increased tolerance to B. cinerea (Figure 4AJ. Phe concentrations used are 0.5-30 mM. Decay area (mm ) results are presented as average+SE.

FIGs. 5A-B show that Phe increases the tolerance of sweet basil plants to white rot (Sclerotinia sclerotiorum) by spraying the plants or drenching the pots (Figure 5A). Phe concentration used was 4.1 niM. Results are presented by disease severity scoring of AUDPC (area under disease progress curve during 6 days after infection) where the severity is marked by units of rot diameter (mm) multiplied by the time of incubation.

FIGs. 6A-B show that treatment of tomato either by drenching or spraying with phenylalanine leads to increased tolerance to White rot (Sclerotinia sclerotiorum). Phe concentration used was 4 mM. Results are presented by disease severity scoring of AUDPC (area under disease progress curve during 15 days after infection) where the severity is marked by units of rot area (mm ) multiplied by the time of incubation.

FIGs. 7A-B show that treatment of lemon either by drenching or spraying with phenylalanine leads to increased tolerance to Mai secco disease, caused by the Plenodomus tracheiphilus syn Phoma tracheiphila fungus. Phe concentration used was 4 mM. Results are presented by disease incidence of infection sites as percent resulting from drench treatment (lower Figure 7A) and spray treatment (upper Figure 7A)

FIG. 8 are images of avocado fruits of the cultivar 'Ettinger' dipped in water or ImM or 4mM phenylalanine for 30 seconds and stored for one day at 5°C. Then the avocado fruit were inoculated by wounding at the fruit equatorial with 7μ1 of spore suspension of Alternaria alternata at the concentration of 10 5 conidia / ml at two sides of the fruit. The fruits were stored at 23 °C. The decay area was monitored during 6 days post inoculation. Clearly, the fruit treated with Phe solutions, postharvest show

increased tolerance to Alternaria alternata.

FIGs. 9A-B show that treatment of cucumber plants with phenylalanine leads to increased tolerance to Pythium aphanidermatum. Phe concentration used was 4 mM. Results are presented by the percentage of dead plants incidence (Figure 9A). Figure 9B: control treatment=lower row and Phe treatment=upper row.

FIGs. 10A-B shows that treatment of tomato (Figure 10A) and petunia (Figure

10B) plants with Phe, Tyrosine (Tyr) or a combination of same leads to increased tolerance to B. cinerea, as determined by disease severity scoring (Figure 10A) or decay area as average+SE (Figure 10B).

FIGs. 11A-B show Mango fruits of the cultivar 'Shelly' that were dipped in water or 4mM phenylalanine for 30 seconds and stored for one day at 12 °C. Then the mango fruits were inoculated at the fruit stem-end with 20μ1 of spore suspension of Lasiodiplodia theobromae at the concentration of 105 conidia / ml at two sides of the fruit. The decay area was monitored after 6 days post inoculation, while incubation at 23 °C.

DESCRIPTION OF SPECIFIC EMBODIMENTS OF THE INVENTION

The present invention, in some embodiments thereof, relates to a method of controlling Botrytis infection.

Before explaining at least one embodiment of the invention in detail, it is to be understood that the invention is not necessarily limited in its application to the details set forth in the following description or exemplified by the Examples. The invention is capable of other embodiments or of being practiced or carried out in various ways.

Botrytis cinerea is a necrotrophic pathogenic fungus with an exceptionally wide host range comprising at least 1400 possible hosts (Elad et al., 2016). Because of its wide host range and because B. cinerea is a major player in economical plant crop losses in many commercially grown crops. Amongst growers, the fungus is commonly referred to as Botrytis.

Botrytis actively kills infected cells, causing soft rot, blights, leaf spot, damping- off and stem cancers. Affected leaves become covered with conidiophores and conidia, and subsequently collapse and wither. The fungus will grow from diseased leaves into the stem and produce dry, light brown lesions a few millimeters to several centimeters in length. Lesions may also form at pruning scars on the stem. The stem lesions may also be covered with a gray mold. In severe cases, the infection girdles the stem and kills the plant. Older, senescent tissues are usually more susceptible to attack by Botrytis than younger tissues.

In order to prevent the development of Botrytis in greenhouse grown plants, the temperature and relative humidity must be closely regulated. It is further important to provide water without wetting the leaves. For field grown plants, good drainage and weed control should be employed. Moreover, the nutrient levels of the plants must be kept high. However, these preventive measures cannot fully avert the occurrence of considerable yield loss in case of infection.

Fungicides are available for controlling Botrytis in both greenhouse and field grown plants (e.g., tomato). However, Botrytis is known to have developed resistance against several commonly used fungicides. In addition, the use of fungicides is undesired both from an economic and from an environmental perspective.

Whilst reducing the present invention to practice, the present inventors have studied the effect of the increased accumulation of Phe derived specialized metabolites in petunia and Arabidopsis leaves on their resistance to Botrytis. Direct application of Phe reduced Botrytis rots in affected plants. Further the present inventors were able to decrease disease symptoms in tomato plant infected with Botrytis treated with Phe by either drenching or spraying.

The results in these three unrelated plant species, points to the use of phenylalanine or analogs thereof in controlling Botrytis infection.

Whilst further reducing embodiments of the invention to practice, the present inventors were able to show that the effect of Phe treatment is robust and affects fungi from a number of orders when applied on different plants (e.g., petunia, tomato, sweet basil, cucumber, avocado and lemon).

As shown in Examples 1-11 below, Phe treatment controls 4 fungi from the

Ascomycota division {Botrytis cinerae, Plenodomus tracheiphilus syn Phoma tracheiphila, Sclerotinia sclerotiorum and Alternaria), and Pythium aphanidermatum from the Oomycota division. Effective Phe treatment can be done in numerous ways including, but not limited to, spraying of whole plants, drenching of the soil in which the plants are growing, dipping of whole cut branches, drenching of cut branches and dipping of postharvest fruit.

While further reducing embodiments of the invention to practice, the present inventors were able to show that aromatic analogs of Phe such as Tyrosine share the anti-fungal properties of Phe (see Example 11), thereby enabling the use of Phe analogs in controlling fungal infections in plants.

According to an aspect of the invention there is provided a method of controlling a fungus infection in a plant susceptible thereto, the method comprising applying to the plant an effective amount of a phenylalanine or an analog thereof for controlling said fungus infection in the plant.

According to an aspect of the invention there is provided a method of controlling a Botrytis infection in a plant susceptible to Botrytis infection, the method comprising applying to the plant an effective amount of a phenylalanine or an analog thereof for controlling said Botrytis infection in the plant.

As used herein the term "controlling" refers to preventing or reducing fungal infection or inhibiting the rate and extent of such infection. Curative treatment is also contemplated.

According to a specific embodiment, the controlling is prevention of Botrytis infection.

As used herein "fungus" refers to a plant fungal pathogen.

According to a specific embodiment the fungus belongs to the Ascomycetes or the Basidiomycetes.

Examples of Ascomycetes include but are not limited to:

Fusarium spp. (Fusarium wilt disease)

Thielaviopsis spp. (canker rot, black root rot, Thielaviopsis root rot)

Verticillium spp.

Magnaporthe grisea (rice blast)

Sclerotinia sclerotiorum (cottony rot)

Examples of Basidiomycetes include, but are not limited to

Ustilago spp. (smuts)

Rhizoctonia spp.

Phakospora pachyrhizi (soybean rust)

Puccinia spp. (severe rusts of cereals and grasses)

Armillaria spp. (honey fungus species, virulent pathogens of trees

According to a specific embodiment, the fungus belongs to the Oomycetes division, also referred to as "fungus-like organisms". They include some of the most destructive plant pathogens including the genus Phytophthora, which includes the causal agents of potato late blight [3] and sudden oak death. Particular species of oomycetes are responsible for root rot.

According to a specific embodiment the oomycete plant pathogens include:

Pythium spp.

Phytophthora spp.

Following are further examples of fungi that are contemplated targets for control according to some embodiments of the invention. Table 1

Fungus Name of plant disease Important sensitive crops

Botrytis cinerea Gray Mold Grape, strawberry, tomato, cucurbits, lettuce, eggplant, pepper, bean, chickpea, pea, rose, petunia, gerbera, pelargonium, ruscus, pear, peach, plum, pomegranate, various berries, eucalyptus, sweet basil

Sclerotinia sclerotiorum White mold Bean, cucumber, tomato, lettuce, peanut, carrot, pea, clover, potato, eggplant, rapeseed, faba bean, pepper, artichoke, banana, sweet basil

Blumeria graminis powdery mildew Wheat and barley

Various pathogens Powdery mildews Grape, strawberry, tomato, cucurbits, eggplant, pepper, bean, pea, rose, gerbera, almond, pear, peach, plum, various berries, carrot, mango, apple

Various pathogens Downy mildews Grape, cucurbits, lettuce, onion, chickpea, rose, gerbera, clover, sunflower, barley, sorghum, pear, peach, plum, pomegranate, basil, spinach

Phytophthora infestans Late blight Potato, tomato, eggplant

Alternaria solani Early blight Potato, tomato

Puccinia spp. Wheat rusts Wheat

Phakopsora pachyrhizi Asian soybean rust Soybean

Various pathogens Rusts Alfalfa, pea, bean, faba bean, rose, barley, sunflower, chickpea, sorghum, maize, carrot, onion, beet, apricot, peach, plum, almond, fig, pine, pelargonium, carnation

Hemileia vastatrix Coffee rust Coffee

Fusarium oxysporum Fusarium wilts Banana (f.sp. cubense), tomato (various formae speciales) (f.sp. ly coper sici), melon

(f.sp. melonis), other cucurbits, sweet potato, pea, chick pea, cotton, onion, eggplant, celery, pepper, garlic, carnation

Pythium spp. Pythium damping off, Various crops

basal rot, root rot

Rhizoctonia solani Rhizoctonia damping off, Various crops

basal rot, root rot

Cercospora spp. Leaf spot Peanut, alfalfa, pea, clover, carrot, cucurbits, lettuce, beets, celery, bean, strawberry, banana, olive, rose, pelargonium

Alternaria alternata Leaf spots, fruit spots, Pea, sunflower, tomato, potato, chick rots pea, onion, cucurbits, lettuce,

eggplant, pepper, pear, avocado, persimmon, citrus, almond, pomegranate

Phytophthora cinnamomi Phytophthora root rot Avocado, pomegranate, proteas Verticillium dahliae Verticillium wilt Peanut, alfalfa, olive, tomato, potato, cotton, clover, potato, eggplant, pepper, strawberry, avocado, cherry, mango, gerbera, rose

Magnaporthe oryzae Rice blast Rice

Fusarium graminearum Head blight Cereal species

Mycosphaerella Septoria tritici blotch Wheat

graminicola

Colletotrichum spp. Anthracnose Alfalfa, pea, strawberry, chickpea, clover, onion, eggplant, tomato, pepper, bean, avocado, persimmon, peach, banana, citrus species, olive, mango, almond

Melampsora lini Flax rust Flax

Ustilago maydis Corn smut Corn

According to a specific embodiment, the fungus is selected from the division Ascomycota and Oomycota.

According to a specific embodiment, the fungus is from the division Ascomycota.

According to a specific embodiment, the fungus is selected from the group consisting of Botrytis, Plenodomus tracheiphilus syn Phoma tracheiphila, Sclerotinia sclerotiorum and Alternaria.

According to a specific embodiment, the fungus is from the division Oomycota.

According to a specific embodiment, the fungus is Pythium aphanidermatum.

As used herein the term "Botrytis" or "Botrytis sp." refers to the fungal pathogen that is responsible for many of the pre- and post-harvest molds which attack plant parts and cause gray mold in susceptible plants.

According to some embodiments, the Botrytis species is selected from the group consisting of Botrytis cinerea, B. aclada (B. allii), B. anemone, B. byssoidea, B. calthae, B. caroliniana, B. convoluta, B. croci, B. douglasii, B. elliptica, B. fabae, B. fabiopsis, B. ficariarum, B. galanthina, B. gladiolorum, B. globosa, B. hyacinthi, B. narcissicola, B. paeoniae, B. pelargonii, B. polyblastis, B. porri, B. ranunculi, B. sinoallii, B. squamosa, B. sphaerosperma, B. tulipae.

Other Botrytis species are also contemplated.

According to a specific embodiment, the Botrytis species is Botrytis cinerea. A plant susceptible to Botrytis infection, as used herein, refers to a plant that can be infected with Botrytis and exhibits disease symptoms resultant of said infection (e.g., mould lesions, grey rot, noble rot, leaf spots (lesions). Environmental conditions, e.g., growth conditions or storage conditions such as light, humidity and temperature are much associated with disease spread. The skilled artisan would recognize that treatment with phenylalanine or analog thereof is beneficial under those conditions that support Botrytis infection. There are over 1400 plant species affected by Botrytis (susceptible to infection).

A comprehensive list is provided in Elad et al., 2016 {supra), which is hereby incorporated by reference in its entirety.

Non-limiting examples of plants susceptible to Botrytis infection is listed infra. Potato, canola, maize, alfalfa, African daisy, African violet, pea, lentil, anemone, almond, apple, apricot, asparagus, avocado, azalea, beet, bellflower, bleeding heart, butterfly flower, cranberries, carrot, tea, tobacco, tomato, verbena, sweet potato, sunflower, strawberry, sapphire flower, safflower, rose, primula, poinsettia, pocketbook plant, pistachio, pigeonpea, Persian violet, Capsicum, pear, peanut, peach, nectarine, mimulus, monkey-flower, mango, lettuce, kalanchoe, Jerusalem cherry, impatiens, hop, hemp, grape, geranium, fuchsia, cyclamen, cucurbit, crucifer, citrus, cineraria, chickpea, cattleya, carnation, Douglas-fir, dahlia, Araceae, Acanthaceae, Agavaceae, Araliaceae, Asclepiadaceae, Gesneriaceae, Ficus, Polypodiaceae), Vitaceae, rhododendron, Stonefruit.

According to a specific embodiment, the plant is not an ornamental plant (e.g.,

African daisy, bellflower, butterfly flower, sunflower, sapphire flower, safflower, rose, poinsettia, monkey-flower, geranium, fuchsia, carnation, dahlia, Araceae, Acanthaceae, Agavaceae, Araliaceae, Asclepiadaceae, Gesneriaceae, Ficus, Polypodiaceae, Vitaceae, rhododendron).

Non-limiting examples of plants susceptible to Botrytis infection is listed infra.

Potato, canola, maize, alfalfa, African violet, pea, lentil, anemone, almond, apple, apricot, asparagus, avocado, azalea, beet, bleeding heart, caneberries, carrot, tea, tobacco, tomato, verbena, sweet potato, strawberry, primula, pocketbook plant, pistachio, pigeonpea, Persian violet, Capsicum, pear, peanut, peach, nectarine, mimulus, mango, lettuce, kalanchoe, Jerusalem cherry, impatiens, hop, hemp, grape, cyclamen, cucurbits, crucifers, citrus, cineraria, chickpea, cattleya, Douglas- fir, Stonefruits. According to a specific embodiment, said plant susceptible to Botrytis infection is a cultivated fruit plant.

According to a specific embodiment, the cultivated fruit plant, refers to a plant which fruits are of an economic value.

According to a specific embodiment, the economic value is a nutritional value.

According to a specific embodiment, the cultivated fruit plant is an edible plant (or has edible fruit).

According to a specific embodiment, the cultivated fruit plant is selected from the group consisting of strawberries, grapes, apples, blueberries, cherries.

According to a specific embodiment, the plant susceptible to Botrytis infection is selected from the group consisting of beans, cabbage, carrots, onions and cucumbers.

According to a specific embodiment, the plant is not a snapdragon, petunia or lisianthus.

According to a specific embodiment, the cultivated fruit plant is not strawberry, peach, apple, orange, lemon, lime, plum, cherry, raspberry, blackberry, tomato, pepper, melon, cucumber, squash, watermelon (when applied to grains or fruits).

According to a specific embodiment the plant is selected from the group consisting of petunia, tomato, sweet basil, cucumber, avocado and lemon.

As used herein the term, "Phenylalanine" or "Phe" refers to the a-amino acid with the formula C9H 11 NO 2 . It can be viewed as a benzyl group substituted for the methyl group of alanine, or a phenyl group in place of a terminal hydrogen of alanine. This essential amino acid is classified as neutral, and nonpolar because of the inert and hydrophobic nature of the benzyl side chain. The L-isomer is used to biochemically form proteins, coded for by DNA. The codons for L-phenylalanine are UUU and UUC. Phenylalanine is a precursor for tyrosine; the monoamine neurotransmitters dopamine, norepinephrine (noradrenaline), and epinephrine (adrenaline); and the skin pigment melanin.

An "analog of Phenylalanine" or "Phe" refers to a naturally occurring composition or synthetic analog of Phe which is capable of controlling fungal e.g., Botrytis infection in a plant. Without being bound by theory it is suggested that the Phe or analog thereof functions by increasing the shikamate pathway in the plant and specifically production of phenylpropanoids. According to a specific embodiment, the Phe analog is a naturally occurring composition.

According to a specific embodiment, the Phe analog is aromatic.

According to a specific embodiment, the Phe analog is Tyrosine or a syntheric analog thereof which is capable of controlling fungal e.g., Botrytis, infection.

Synthetic analogs are commercially available such as from AnaSpec.

A non-limiting example list is provided infra. Measures are taken to test for phyto-toxicity before applying onto the plant.

(2 , 3 ) - Boc - β - methyl - phenylalanine

(2R, 3R) - Boc - β - methyl - phenylalanine

(2R, 3R)/(2S, 3S) - Racemic - Boc - β - methyl - phenylalanine

(2R, 3S)/(2S, 3R) - Racemic Boc - β - hydroxyphenylalanine

(2R, 3S)/(2S, 3R) - Racemic Boc - β - hydroxyphenylalanine

(2R, 3S)/(2S, 3R) - Racemic Fmoc - β - hydroxyphenylalanine

(2R, 3S)/(2S, 3R) - Racemic Fmoc - β - hydroxyphenylalanine

(2S, 3S) - Boc - β - methyl - phenylalanine

(2S, 3S) - Boc - β - methyl - phenylalanine

Boc - a - methyl - 3 - methoxy - PL - phenylalanine

Boc - a - methyl - 3 - methoxy - PL - phenylalanine

Boc - a - methyl - P - phenylalanine

Boc - a - methyl - L - phenylalanine

Boc - a - methyl - L - phenylalanine

Boc - β - methyl - PL - phenylalanine

Boc - β - methyl - PL - phenylalanine

Boc - (R) - 1,2,3,4 - tetrahydroisoquino - line - 3 - carboxylic acid

Boc - P - Tic - OH

Boc - (R) - 1,2,3,4 - tetrahydroisoquino - line - 3 - carboxylic acid

Boc - P - Tic - OH

Boc - (S) - 1,2,3,4 - tetrahydroisoquinoline - line - 3 - carboxylic acid

Boc - L - Tic - OH

Boc - (S) - 1,2,3,4 - tetrahydroisoquinoline - line - 3 - carboxylic acid

Boc - L - Tic - OH

Boc - 2,4 - dichloro - P - phenylalanine

Boc - 2,4 - dichloro - L - phenylalanine

Boc - 2 - (trifluoromethyl) - P - phenylalanine

Boc - 2 - (trifluoromethyl) - L - phenylalanine

Boc - 2 - bromo - P - phenylalanine

Boc - 2 - bromo - L - phenylalanine

Boc - 2 - bromo - L - phenylalanine

Boc - 2 - chloro - P - phenylalanine Boc - 2 - chloro - L - phenylalanine

Boc - 2 - cyano - D - phenylalanine

Boc - 2 - cyano - L - phenylalanine

Boc - 2 - cyano - L - phenylalanine

Boc - 2 - fluoro - D - phenylalanine

Boc - 2 - fluoro - L - phenylalanine

Boc - 2 - methyl - D - phenylalanine

Boc - 2 - methyl - L - phenylalanine

Boc - 2 - nitro - D - phenylalanine

Boc - 2 - nitro - L - phenylalanine

Boc - 2;4;5 - trihydroxy - DL - phenylalanine

Boc - 3,4,5 - trifluoro - D - phenylalanine

Boc - 3,4,5 - trifluoro - L - phenylalanine

Boc - 3,4 - dichloro - D - phenylalanine

Boc - 3,4 - dichloro - L - phenylalanine

Boc - 3,4 - difluoro - D - phenylalanine

Boc - 3,4 - difluoro - L - phenylalanine

Boc - 3,4 - dihydroxy - L - phenylalanine

Boc - 3,4 - dihydroxy - L - phenylalanine

Boc - 3,4 - dimethoxy - L - phenylalanine

Boc - 3,5,3' - triiodo - L - thyronine

Boc - 3,5 - diiodo - D - tyrosine

Boc - 3,5 - diiodo - L - thyronine

Boc - 3,5 - diiodo - L - tyrosine

Boc - 3 - (trifluoromethyl) - D - phenylalanine

Boc - 3 - (trifluoromethyl) - L - phenylalanine

Boc - 3 - amino - L - tyrosine

Boc - 3 - amino - L - tyrosine

Boc - 3 - bromo - D - phenylalanine

Boc - 3 - bromo - L - phenylalanine

Boc - 3 - chloro - D - phenylalanine

Boc - 3 - chloro - D - phenylalanine

Boc - 3 - chloro - L - phenylalanine

Boc - 3 - chloro - L - phenylalanine

Boc - 3 - chloro - L - tyrosine

Boc - 3 - cyano - D - phenylalanine

Boc - 3 - cyano - L - phenylalanine

Boc - 3 - cyano - L - phenylalanine

Boc - 3 - fluoro - D - phenylalanine

Boc - 3 - fluoro - DL - tyrosine

Boc - 3 - fluoro - DL - tyrosine

Boc - 3 - fluoro - L - phenylalanine Boc - 3 - iodo - D - phenylalanine

Boc - D - Phe(3 - 1) - OH

Boc - 3 - iodo - L - phenylalanine

Boc - Phe(3 - l) - OH

Boc - 3 - iodo - L - phenylalanine

Boc - Phe(3 - l) - OH

Boc - 3 - iodo - L - tyrosine

Boc - 3 - iodo - L - tyrosine

Boc - 3 - methyl - D - phenylalanine

Boc - 3 - methyl - L - phenylalanine

Boc - 3 - nitro - D - phenylalanine

Boc - 3 - nitro - L - phenylalanine

Boc - 3 - nitro - L - tyrosine

Boc - 3 - nitro - L - tyrosine

Boc - 4 - (Fmoc - aminomethyl) - D - phenylalanine

Boc - 4 - (Fmoc - aminomethyl) - L - phenylalanine

Boc - 4 - (trifluoromethyl) - D - phenylalanine

Boc - 4 - (trifluoromethyl) - L - phenylalanine

Boc - 4 - amino - D - phenylalanine

Boc - 4 - amino - D - phenylalanine

Boc - 4 - amino - L - phenylalanine

Boc - 4 - amino - L - phenylalanine

Boc - 4 - benzoyl - D - phenylalanine

Boc - D - Bpa - OH

Boc - 4 - benzoyl - L - phenylalanine

Boc - L - Bpa - OH

Boc - 4 - benzoyl - L - phenylalanine

Boc - L - Bpa - OH

Boc - 4 - bis(2 - chloroethyl)amino - L - phenylalanine

Boc - 4 - bromo - D - phenylalanine

Boc - 4 - bromo - D - phenylalanine

Boc - 4 - bromo - L - phenylalanine

Boc - 4 - bromo - L - phenylalanine

Boc - 4 - chloro - D - phenylalanine

Boc - 4 - chloro - L - phenylalanine

Boc - 4 - chloro - L - phenylalanine

Boc - 4 - cyano - D - phenylalanine

Boc - 4 - cyano - L - phenylalanine

Boc - 4 - cyano - L - phenylalanine

Boc - 4 - fluoro - D - phenylalanine

Boc - 4 - fluoro - L - phenylalanine

Boc - 4 - fluoro - L - phenylalanine

Boc - 4 - iodo - D - phenylalanine Boc - 4 - iodo - L - phenylalanine

Boc - 4 - iodo - L - phenylalanine

Boc - 4 - methyl - D - phenylalanine

Boc - 4 - methyl - L - phenylalanine

Boc - 4 - nitro - D - phenylalanine

Boc - 4 - nitro - L - phenylalanine

Boc - 5 - bromo - 2 - methoxy - D - phenylalanine

Boc - 5 - bromo - 2 - methoxy - L - phenylalanine

Boc - 7 - hydroxy - ( ) - 1,2,3,4 - tetrahydroisoquinoline - 3 - carboxylic acid

Boc - hydroxy - D - Tic - OH

Boc - 7 - hydroxy - (R) - 1,2,3,4 - tetrahydroisoquinoline - 3 - carboxylic acid

Boc - hydroxy - D - Tic - OH

Boc - 7 - hydroxy - (S) - 1,2,3,4 - tetrahydroisoquinoline - 3 - carboxylic acid

Boc - hydroxy - Tic - OH

Boc - 7 - hydroxy - (S) - 1,2,3,4 - tetrahydroisoquinoline - 3 - carboxylic acid

Boc - hydroxy - Tic - OH

Boc - D - 3,3 - diphenylalanine

Boc - D - homophenylalanine

Boc - D - homophenylalanine

Boc - D - pentafluorophenylalanine

According to a specific embodiment, the analog is Aspartame.

According to a specific embodiment, the analog is Tyrosine.

As mentioned, phenylalanine is applied in an effective amount to control fungal e.g., Botrytis infection.

According to a specific embodiment the phenylalanine is administered in an amount of 0.01-50 mM, 0.1-50 mM 0.5-50 mM e.g., 0.5-30 mM, 1-50 mM, 5-50 mM, 10-50 mM, 10-30 mM, 5-30 mM, 1-30 mM, 10-20 mM, 0.5-20 mM, 5-20 mM, 1-20 mM, 1-15 mM, 15 to 30 mM or up to 50 mM.

It may be possible to use low concentration^. g., 0.01-10 mM, 0.01-5 mM, 0.01- 1 mM, 0.1-10 mM, 0.1-5 mM, 0.1-1 mM) of Phe or analog thereof especially when used in conjunction with a surfactant or when combinations of Phe and analogs are used (e.g., Phe+Tyr).

As used herein "plant" refers to whole plants, a grafted plant including seeds, shoots, stems, roots (including tubers), rootstock, scion, and plant cells, tissues and organs. The plant may be in any form including cuttings and harvested material (e.g., fruit). The Phe (or analog) can be applied to plants by spraying, dusting, coating, soaking, irrigation, drenching or otherwise treating them with the active ingredients or alternatively, by treating with the active ingredients the plant seeds, the soil around the plant, or the soil, rice pads or the water for hydroponic culture where the seeds are to be sown. The application may be effected either before or after the plant is infected with a fungus e.g., Botrytis

According to a specific embodiment, the regimen is performed such as to control the fungus e.g., Botrytis.

According to a specific embodiment, applying comprises pre-harvest applying.

According to a specific embodiment, said applying comprises post-harvest applying.

According to a specific embodiment, said applying comprises pre-harvest applying and not post-harvest applying.

According to a specific embodiment, said applying comprises post-harvest applying and not pre-harvest applying.

According to a specific embodiment, said plant is at a post-blossom stage.

According to a specific embodiment, said plant is at a blossom stage.

According to a specific embodiment, said plant is at a pre-blossom stage.

When indicated a specific stage, the application can be confined only to this stage or to the recited stage and more. For instance, when indicated applying at blossom, applying can be effected at blossom or blossom+ post-blossom (i.e., fruit), or pre-blossom + blossom or pre-blossom+blossom + post blossom.

According to a specific embodiment, applying is post-emergence.

According to a specific embodiment, said phenylalanine or said analog is formulated in a composition selected from the group consisting of a dip, a spray or a concentrate.

According to a specific embodiment, said applying is in the vicinity of or onto the roots, stems, trunk, seed, fruits or leaves of the plant.

According to a specific embodiment, said applying is by irrigation, drenching, dipping, soaking, injection, coating or spraying.

According to a specific embodiment, said applying is in an open field.

According to a specific embodiment, said applying is in a greenhouse According to a specific embodiment, said applying is in a storage facility (e.g., dark room, refrigerator).

According to a specific embodiment, said applying is effected once.

According to a specific embodiment, said applying comprises repeated application (2 or more applications e.g., every week). Repeated applications are especially envisaged for field/greenhouse treatments.

According to a specific embodiment, said repeated application comprises weekly administration during blossom pre -harvest.

For example, suggested regimen include but are not limited to, spraying plants in open fields and green house, adding to irrigation of plants grown in the open field, green house and in pots, dipping the whole foliage branch in the solution post harvest, adding to vase of cut flowers after harvest and before shipment.

According to a specific embodiment, the active ingredient (Phe and/or analog) is formulated into a composition where it is mixed with other active ingredients (e.g., fungicides) and/or agriculturally acceptable carrier".

According to a specific embodiment such a composition of the invention is shelf stable. The term "shelf stable" refers to a composition of the invention that maintains its activity throughout a given storage period at the recommended conditions (e.g., temperature) and optionally does not separate out into separate phases or develop any offensive odours.

As used herein the term "agriculturally acceptable carrier" refers to a material that facilitates application of a composition of the invention to the intended subject, which may for example be a plant, plant material or equipment, or that facilitates storage, transport or handling. Carriers used in compositions for application to plants and plant material are preferably non-phy to toxic or only mildly phy to toxic. A suitable carrier may be a solid, liquid or gas depending on the desired formulation. In one embodiment the carriers include polar liquid carriers such as water, mineral oils and vegetable oils.

Examples of liquid carriers include but are not limited to water; alcohols, particularly butanol or glycol, as well as their ethers or esters, particularly methylglycol acetate; ketones, particularly acetone, cyclohexanone, methylethyl ketone, methylisobutylketone, or isophorone; petroleum fractions such as paraffinic or aromatic hydrocarbons, particularly xylenes or alkyl naphthalenes; mineral or vegetable oils; aliphatic chlorinated hydrocarbons, particularly trichloroethane or methylene chloride; aromatic chlorinated hydrocarbons, particularly chlorobenzenes; water-soluble or strongly polar solvents such as dimethylformamide, dimethyl sulfoxide, or N- methylpyrrolidone; liquefied gases; or the like or a mixture thereof.

Examples of solid carriers include but are not limited to fillers such as kaolin, bentonite, dolomite, calcium carbonate, talc, powdered magnesia, Fuller's earth, gypsum, diatomaceous earth and China clay.

A carrier which provides for slow or delayed release of a compound (Phe or analog) of the invention may also be included in a composition of the invention (especially because of the short life cycle of the Botrytis).

In another embodiment, a composition (or active ingredient thereof - Phe or analog) of the invention is applied in an amount able to inhibit germination of fungal spores.

According to a specific embodiment, the composition (or active ingredient thereof - Phe or analog) of the invention is applied in an amount able to reduce the standard concentration advised by the regulatory agencies (e.g., FDA) of commonly used fungicides.

According to a specific embodiment, the composition (or active ingredient thereof - Phe or analog) of the invention is applied in an amount able to reduce necrosis or chlorosis.

As used herein "increasing" or "decreasing" or "reducing" refers to about +/- at least 10 %, 20 %, 30 %, 40 %, 50 %, 60 %, 70 %, 80 %, 90 % or more compared to a control plant in the absence of said Phe or analog under identical assay conditions.

Applying may be directly to the plant or to a surface in sufficient vicinity to the plant to control Botrytis infection of the plant.

Thus, applying can be to any target surface to which a compound or composition of the invention may be applied, for example to a plant, plant material including roots, bulbs, tubers, corms, leaves, flowers, seeds, stems, callus tissue, nuts, grains, fruit, cuttings, root stock, scions, harvested crops including roots, bulbs, tubers, corms, leaves, flowers, seeds, stems, callus tissue, nuts, grains, fruit, cuttings, root stock, scions, or any surface that may contact harvested crops including harvesting equipment, packaging equipment and packaging material.

For surfaces such as harvesting equipment, packaging equipment and packaging material, the compound or composition of the invention is applied before use of the harvesting equipment, packaging equipment or packaging material.

According to a specific embodiment, the compound or composition of the invention is formulated as a dip, a powder, a spray or a concentrate.

According to a specific embodiment, the formulation comprises a surfactant, which may be used in spraying for example.

According to a specific embodiment, the surfactant is a cationic surfactant, e.g., benzalkonium chloride, cetylpyridinium chloride.

According to a specific embodiment, the surfactant is an anionic surfactant, e.g., alkyl sulphates, alkyl ethoxylate sulphates.

According to a specific embodiment, the surfactant is a non-ionic surfactant, e.g., Alkyl polyglycoside, Triton X- 100, Polyoxyethylene (20) sorbitan monooleate (Tween- 80), Silwett L-77.

According to a specific embodiment, the surfactant is Tween-80 or Silwett L-77.

According to a specific embodiment, the concentration of the surfactant is about 0.1 %.In one embodiment, a composition of the invention may further comprise at least one additional agricultural agent. In an alternative embodiment a composition of the invention may be delivered separately, simultaneously or sequentially with at least one additional agricultural agent.

In one embodiment, a composition of the invention may further comprise at least one additional fungicide. In an alternative embodiment a composition of the invention may be delivered separately, simultaneously or sequentially with at least one additional fungicide.

When formulating a composition of the invention containing an additional agricultural agent such as an additional fungicide or planning delivery of a composition of the invention separately, simultaneously or sequentially with an additional agricultural agent such as an additional fungicide it may be desirable to assess the degree of phytotoxicity resulting from application of the compositions to plant material over time. This may be assessed according to the methodology well known in the art. Assessment of a composition of the invention or a composition of the invention including or delivered with an additional agricultural agent such as an additional fungicide may include assessment of: (1) Degree of control of Botrytis without stimulating growth of undesirable non-target microbes or harming beneficial organisms. (2) Durability of control. (3) Degree of phytotoxicity and effects on plant development when used repeatedly throughout a portion or the entirety of a growing season. (4) Compatibility with other control products used in the industry.

As described above, the compositions of the present invention may be used alone or in combination with one or more other agricultural agents, including pesticides, insecticides, acaracides, fungicides, bactericides, herbicides, antibiotics, antimicrobials, nematocides, rodenticides, entomopathogens, pheromones, attractants, plant growth regulators, plant hormones, insect growth regulators, chemosterilants, microbial pest control agents, repellents, viruses, phago stimulants, plant nutrients, plant fertilisers and biological control agents. When used in combination with other agricultural agents the administration of the two agents may be separate, simultaneous or sequential. Specific examples of these agricultural agents are known to those skilled in the art, and many are readily commercially available.

Examples of plant nutrients include but are not limited to nitrogen, magnesium, calcium, boron, potassium, copper, iron, phosphorus, manganese, molybdenum, cobalt, boron, copper, silicon, selenium, nickel, aluminum, chromium and zinc.

Examples of antibiotics include but are not limited to oxytetracyline and streptomycin.

Examples of fungicides include but are not limited to the following classes of fungicides: carboxamides, benzimidazoles, triazoles, hydroxypyridines, dicarboxamides, phenylamides, thiadiazoles, carbamates, cyano-oximes, cinnamic acid derivatives, morpholines, imidazoles, beta-methoxy acrylates and pyridines/pyrimidines .

Further examples of fungicides include but are not limited to natural fungicides, organic fungicides, sulphur-based fungicides, copper/calcium fungicides and elicitors of plant host defences.

Examples of natural fungicides include but are not limited to whole milk, whey, fatty acids or esterified fatty acids. Examples of organic fungicides include but are not limited to any fungicide which passes an organic certification standard such as biocontrol agents, natural products, elicitors (some of may also be classed as natural products), and sulphur and copper fungicides (limited to restricted use).

An example of a sulphur-based fungicide is Kumulus™ DF (BASF, Germany).

An example of a copper fungicide is Kocide.RTM. 2000 DF (Griffin Corporation, USA).

Examples of elicitors include but are not limited to chitosan, Bion™, BABA (DL-3-amino-n-butanoic acid, beta -aminobutyric acid) and Milsana™ (Western Farm Service, Inc., USA).

In some embodiments non-organic fungicides may be employed. Examples of non-organic fungicides include but are not limited to Bravo™ (for control of powdery mildew (PM) on cucurbits); Supershield™ (Yates, NZ) (for control of Botrytis and PM on roses); Topas.RTM. 200EW (for control of PM on grapes and cucurbits); Flint™ (for control of PM on apples and cucurbits); Amistar.RTM. WG (for control of rust and PM on cereals); and Captan™, Dithane™, Euparen™, Rovral™, Scala™, Shirlan™, Switch™ and Teldor™ (for control of Botrytis on grapes).

Examples of pesticides include but are not limited to azoxystrobin, bitertanol, carboxin, Cu.sub.20, cymoxanil, cyproconazole, cyprodinil, dichlofluamid, difenoconazole, diniconazole, epoxiconazole, fenpiclonil, fludioxonil, fluquiconazole, flusilazole, flutriafol, furalaxyl, guazatin, hexaconazole, hymexazol, imazalil, imibenconazole, ipconazole, kresoxim-methyl, mancozeb, metalaxyl, R-metalaxyl, metconazole, oxadixyl, pefurazoate, penconazole, pencycuron, prochloraz, propiconazole, pyroquilone, SSF-109, spiroxamin, tebuconazole, thiabendazole, tolifluamid, triazoxide, triadimefon, triadimenol, triflumizole, triticonazole and uniconazole.

An example of a biological control is the BotryZen™ biological control agent comprising Ulocladium oudemansii.

Efficacy of compositions of the invention may also be confirmed using field trial assay systems. For example, confirmation of the ability of compositions of the invention to prevent fungal growth may be obtained by applying a compound or composition of the invention to plant material and then inoculating with a target organism. Efficacy is confirmed by the absence of growth or less growth of the target organism than an untreated control.

According to a specific embodiment the agricultural composition may comprise phenylalanine or an analog thereof and a surfactant (as described herein) for controlling a fungus infection in a plant.

According to a specific embodiment the agricultural composition may comprise phenylalanine and tyrosine for controlling a fungus infection in a plant.

Confirmation of the ability of compositions of the invention to treat fungal growth may be obtained by inoculating plant material with a target organism and then applying a composition of the invention. Efficacy is confirmed by a reduction in the degree of growth or the disappearance of the target organism compared to an untreated control.

As used herein the term "about" refers to ± 10 %.

The terms "comprises", "comprising", "includes", "including", "having" and their conjugates mean "including but not limited to".

The term "consisting of means "including and limited to".

The term "consisting essentially of" means that the composition, method or structure may include additional ingredients, steps and/or parts, but only if the additional ingredients, steps and/or parts do not materially alter the basic and novel characteristics of the claimed composition, method or structure.

As used herein, the singular form "a", "an" and "the" include plural references unless the context clearly dictates otherwise. For example, the term "a compound" or "at least one compound" may include a plurality of compounds, including mixtures thereof.

Throughout this application, various embodiments of this invention may be presented in a range format. It should be understood that the description in range format is merely for convenience and brevity and should not be construed as an inflexible limitation on the scope of the invention. Accordingly, the description of a range should be considered to have specifically disclosed all the possible subranges as well as individual numerical values within that range. For example, description of a range such as from 1 to 6 should be considered to have specifically disclosed subranges such as from 1 to 3, from 1 to 4, from 1 to 5, from 2 to 4, from 2 to 6, from 3 to 6 etc., as well as individual numbers within that range, for example, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, and 6. This applies regardless of the breadth of the range.

Whenever a numerical range is indicated herein, it is meant to include any cited numeral (fractional or integral) within the indicated range. The phrases "ranging/ranges between" a first indicate number and a second indicate number and "ranging/ranges from" a first indicate number "to" a second indicate number are used herein interchangeably and are meant to include the first and second indicated numbers and all the fractional and integral numerals therebetween.

As used herein the term "method" refers to manners, means, techniques and procedures for accomplishing a given task including, but not limited to, those manners, means, techniques and procedures either known to, or readily developed from known manners, means, techniques and procedures by practitioners of the chemical, pharmacological, biological, biochemical and medical arts.

As used herein, the term "treating" includes abrogating, substantially inhibiting, slowing or reversing the progression of a condition, substantially ameliorating clinical or aesthetical symptoms of a condition or substantially preventing the appearance of clinical or aesthetical symptoms of a condition.

It is appreciated that certain features of the invention, which are, for clarity, described in the context of separate embodiments, may also be provided in combination in a single embodiment. Conversely, various features of the invention, which are, for brevity, described in the context of a single embodiment, may also be provided separately or in any suitable subcombination or as suitable in any other described embodiment of the invention. Certain features described in the context of various embodiments are not to be considered essential features of those embodiments, unless the embodiment is inoperative without those elements.

Various embodiments and aspects of the present invention as delineated hereinabove and as claimed in the claims section below find experimental support in the following examples. EXAMPLES

Reference is now made to the following examples, which together with the above descriptions illustrate some embodiments of the invention in a non limiting fashion. Generally, the nomenclature used herein and the laboratory procedures utilized in the present invention include molecular, biochemical, microbiological and recombinant DNA techniques. Such techniques are thoroughly explained in the literature. See, for example, "Molecular Cloning: A laboratory Manual" Sambrook et al., (1989); "Current Protocols in Molecular Biology" Volumes I-III Ausubel, R. M., ed. (1994); Ausubel et al., "Current Protocols in Molecular Biology", John Wiley and Sons, Baltimore, Maryland (1989); Perbal, "A Practical Guide to Molecular Cloning", John Wiley & Sons, New York (1988); Watson et al., "Recombinant DNA", Scientific American Books, New York; Birren et al. (eds) "Genome Analysis: A Laboratory Manual Series", Vols. 1-4, Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory Press, New York (1998); methodologies as set forth in U.S. Pat. Nos. 4,666,828; 4,683,202; 4,801,531; 5,192,659 and 5,272,057; "Cell Biology: A Laboratory Handbook", Volumes I-III Cellis, J. E., ed. (1994); "Current Protocols in Immunology" Volumes I-III Coligan J. E., ed. (1994); Stites et al. (eds), "Basic and Clinical Immunology" (8th Edition), Appleton & Lange, Norwalk, CT (1994); Mishell and Shiigi (eds), "Selected Methods in Cellular Immunology", W. H. Freeman and Co., New York (1980); available immunoassays are extensively described in the patent and scientific literature, see, for example, U.S. Pat. Nos. 3,791,932; 3,839,153; 3,850,752; 3,850,578; 3,853,987; 3,867,517; 3,879,262; 3,901,654; 3,935,074; 3,984,533; 3,996,345; 4,034,074; 4,098,876; 4,879,219; 5,011,771 and 5,281,521 ; "Oligonucleotide Synthesis" Gait, M. J., ed. (1984); "Nucleic Acid Hybridization" Hames, B. D., and Higgins S. J., eds. (1985); "Transcription and Translation" Hames, B. D., and Higgins S. J., Eds. (1984); "Animal Cell Culture" Freshney, R. I., ed. (1986); "Immobilized Cells and Enzymes" IRL Press, (1986); "A Practical Guide to Molecular Cloning" Perbal, B., (1984) and "Methods in Enzymology" Vol. 1-317, Academic Press; "PCR Protocols: A Guide To Methods And Applications", Academic Press, San Diego, CA (1990); Marshak et al., "Strategies for Protein Purification and Characterization - A Laboratory Course Manual" CSHL Press (1996); all of which are incorporated by reference as if fully set forth herein. Other general references are provided throughout this document. The procedures therein are believed to be well known in the art and are provided for the convenience of the reader. All the information contained therein is incorporated herein by reference. Materials and Methods for Examples 1-2

Plant material and growth conditions:

Petunia (Petunia x hybrida) V26 variety, and a commercial white flowered cultivar (Dream White) cultivars were used. Petunia plants were grown as described in Oliva et al., (2015). Arabidopsis plants were grown as described in Tzin et al., (2012).

Fungal material and infection method

Conidia of Botrytis cinerea strain BO-05 were grown on PDA medium for 10 days. Conidia were gently collected from the plate in sterile water and were diluted to 10 6 conidia/ml. Fresh leaves of similar age and size of Petunia or Arabidopsis were detached from the plant, washed with water and placed in a humid chamber, under artificial light at 22 °C. The upper side of the leaves was wounded (1-2 mm) and 5 μΐ drops of conidia suspension at a concentration of 10 6 conidia/ml were placed on the artificial wound. Decay diameter was measured following inoculation in specific days post inoculation (dpi) as detailed in the results.

DCF stain

Leaves were immersed in 10 μΜ 2', 7'-Dichlorodihydrofluorescein diacetate (DCFH-DA) (Thermo Fischer) in PBS for 15 min in the dark at room temperature, then the leaves were rinsed with PBS, two times. The leaves were imaged under a fluorescence binocular with a GFP3 filter (Leica MZFLIII) and green fluorescence was quantified with Image J version 1.44 (NIH).

Treatment of leaves with phenylalanine

Petunia leaves were dipped for 10 min in double distilled water with 0.02 % Silwett L-77 surfectant supplemented either with 15 mM or 0 mM phenylalanine. Leaves were then placed in a humid box, and wound inoculated with B. cinerea was performed as described above.

Statistics

Statistical significance analysis was calculated either by t-test or by one-way ANOVA using JMP software. EXAMPLE 1

Plants treated with phenylalanine present higher resistance to the pathogen

The question whether external treatment of petunia leaves with Phe increases resistance to B. cinerea pathogen, due to increased phenylpropanoids was addressed. Petunia detached leaves were treated with Phe and subjected to artificial B. cinerea inoculation. The diameter of decay in the Phe treated control leaves was significantly smaller, 7 days post inoculation, in comparison to non-treated controls (Figures 1A-B). Indeed, both the severe symptom of necrosis and the milder symptoms of chlorosis were reduced in response to application of Phe (Figure 1C).

External Phe treatment of foliage increases their resistance to B. cinerea. This is the first report suggesting that feeding of Phe as an antifungal treatment of plants.

In an independent experiment the decay diameter of detached leaves of wild type petunia (V26 cultivar) treated with 15 mM Phe or with H 2 O 2 . Leaves were treated with Phe by dipping them for 10 min in double distilled water with 0.02 % Silwett L-77 surfactant supplemented either with 15 mM or 0 mM phenylalanine (controls). Treatment with Phe solution was just prior to infection with Botrytis cinerea (strain BO- 05). Inoculation was performed by slightly wounding leaves (1-2 mm), and adding about 5μ1 botrytis solution at a concentration of 10 6 spores/ml (Conidia of Botrytis cinerea strain BO-05) grown on PDA medium for 10 days. Conidia were gently collected from the plate using sterile water and were diluted to 10 6 conidia /ml.). The inoculated detached leaves were placed in a humid box, under artificial light at 22°C.

Necrotic area was measured at 3, 4 and 7 days post inoculation (dpi). Averages + SE results are presented for 25 leaves, as decay area in mm*2. Asterisks (*) represent statistically significant differences between the transgenic lines and control, using t- tests, p<0.05 (Figure ID). Photographs of leaves with and without Phe treatment at day 4 from inoculation (Figure IE upper panel), and bright field imaging of inoculated area 11 dpi (Figure IE, lower panel). EXAMPLE 2

Disease control in tomato plants

Materials and Methods

Plants

Tomato plants (tomato cultivar-Brigate) were grown from seeds in a nursery and transplanted into 1 liter pots at 40 to 50 days following seeding in an unheated greenhouse. Plants were fertilized proportionally with drippers 2-3 times per day with 5:3:8 NPK fertilizer (irrigation water was planned to have total N, P and K concentrations of 120, 30 and 150 mg/L, respectively; EC 2.2 dS/m), allowing for 25-50 % drainage. Plants were maintained at 20 - 30 °C with natural light, and relative humidity of 50-90 % in a pest- and disease-free greenhouse during the growth period and then transferred to an area where disease was allowed to develop following pathogen infection on intact leaves as described below.

Pathogen: growth, harvesting, infection and evaluation of conferred disease severity

Gray mold inducing pathogen

Botrytis cinerea [Pers.:Fr. [Teleomorph: Botryotinia fuckeliana (de Bary) Whetzel] (isolate BcI16; [Swartzberg D. et al., Eur. J. Plant Pathol., 2008, 120:289- 297])] was cultured on potato dextrose agar (PDA, Difco, Detroit, MI) in 90 mm diam. petri plates containing 15 ml PDA each and incubated at 20 °C. The inoculum was maintained on PDA and transferred every two weeks. Gray mold conidia were harvested from 10 to 14 day-old cultures by agitating 1 cm of agar bearing mycelium and conidia in a glass tube with tap water. The suspension was then filtered through cheesecloth. The concentration of conidia was determined using a haemocytometer and a light microscope, and adjusted to 5xl0 5 conidia/ml. Since B. cinerea conidia need carbon and phosphate for germination and penetration, 0.1 % glucose was added to the final conidial suspension together with 0.1 % KH 2 P0 4 . These supplements have been shown to facilitate germination of B. cinerea conidia and subsequent leaf infection.

Plant attached tomato leaves were examined. Whole plants were kept in a humidity chamber at 22+l°C, 97+3% RH, and 1020 lux light intensity. Plants were infected by placing 10 \iL drops of a 5xl0 5 conidia/ml suspension, 5 drops/leaf (one drop on each leaflet), on two mature leaves. Disease severity was evaluated on each plant using a pictorial key; 0 = no infection (infection site is symptomless) and 100 = all infection site fully covered by gray mold symptoms. The analyses were performed in the mentioned plants.

The temperature of the growth room was kept at 20 + 1°C and 75-90% RH during the course of the experiments.

Phenylalanine treatment

Phenylalanine treatment consisted of either spray or drench at concentrations of 0.5-4.1 mM administrated 3 and 0 days before infection with B. cinerea. Control plants were treated by water and kept under the same conditions as mentioned above.

Statistical Analysis

Treatments in experiments were replicated 5 times. Replicates of each treatment were arranged randomly. Disease severity data in percentages were arcsin-transformed before further analysis. Disease severity data were analyzed using ANOVA and Fisher's protected LSD test and disease levels were statistically separated ( <0.05) following a one-way analysis of variance.

Results

Control of gray mold by Phenylalanine

Disease severity is reduced significantly when the phenylalanine is applied as drench to the root zone at concentrations of 0.5 to 4.1 mM (Figure 2A) and when the phenylalanine is sprayed on the plants at concentration of 1.0 to 4.1 mM (Figure 2B).

Example 3

Treatment of whole petunia plants, either by spraying the plants or drenching the pots with exogenous phenylalanine increases tolerance to B.cinerea

Inoculation with B. cinerea was performed 3 days after Phe treatment. In this case only one Phe treatment was performed however multiple treatments can be used e.g., first- three days prior to inoculation and a second one on the day of inoculation (data not shown but results are similar). 18 leaves were inoculated with B. cinerea, as described above. The plants were covered with a nylon bag and kept in the light and 22 °C (as above). Decay area (mm*2) results are presented as averages + SE and shown in Figures 2C-2D. Of note, 4.1 mM Phe was compared with 6 mM Phe and the degree of resistance was a little lower, supporting a dose response as further confirmed hereinbelow.

Example 4

The tolerance of plants to Botrytis cinerea increases with Phe treatment in a dose responsive manner, either by spraying the plants or drenching the pots

Commercial petunia plants ('Dream Heaven') were treated as described above in Example 3, either by spraying the plants (Figure 3 A) or drenching the pots (Figure 3B), this time with increasing concentrations of Phe (6-50 mM).

In both cases, as can be seen in Figures 3A-B, the higher Phe concentrations caused increased resistance of the plants to B. cinerea, and the resistance lasted for a longer time. 7 days after spraying and 10 days after drenching the pots with the Phe solutions, plants that were treated with higher Phe concentrations (35 and 50 mM) showed no increased decay area. Still images of the plants are shown for the various treatments in Figures 3C-D.

Similar results were obtained for tomato plants (Figure 3C). Specifically, tomato plants were sprayed with increasing concentrations of Phe solutions (0.5-30 mM aquatic solution of Phe, no detergent) and percent disease severity was determined 11 days following treatment. In addition, the higher concentrations, such as 20 and 30 mM caused increased resistance for a longer period of time (results not shown).

The addition of a surfactant (0.01 % Tween 80) to the Phe solution improved the effect of increased resistance to B. cinerea (Figure 3D).

Example 5

Treatment of cut Ruscus branches with exogenous phenylalanine increases tolerance to B. cinerea

Ruscus branches serve as an ornamental decorative. These plants are very susceptible to Botrytis. Cut branches were treated with Phe either by drenching the tip of the cut branch in the Phe solution (Figure 4B), or dipping the whole cut branch in Phe solution for an hour before dipping it in water and inoculating with botrytis. In both treatments the concentration used was 6mM phenylalanine, and for the drenching treatment an additional concentration of 20mM was added (Figure 4A). For the dipping experiment 50 ppm T.O.G-6 was added to the Phe solution to prevent bacterial growth during the days of the experiment. Control branches were drenched in water and dipped in water with 50 ppm T.O.G-6. Ruscus leaves were wounded and inoculated with B. cinerea as described in the above Examples. Decay area (mm*2) results are presented as averages of 10 replications with each being a leaf from one of 10 branches + SE.

As can be seen from Figures 4A, dipping the whole branches for an hour in 6 mM Phe increased resistance of the plants to botrytis significantly.

Example 6

Treatment of sweet basil with exogenous phenylalanine increases tolerance to White rot (Sclerotinia sclerotiorum)

Sweet basil plants in pots were treated with 4.1 mM Phe as described for tomato, and inoculated with a S. sclerotiorum mycelium disc from 4 days potato dextrose agar culture (White rot), related to botrytis, both being from the Ascomycota division.

Treatment showed a significant reduction in disease symptoms as determined by decay area (described above). See Figures 5A-B. Figure 5B shows a Sweet basil plant infected by Sclerotinia sclerotiorum causing white mold disease.

Example 7

Treatment of tomato with exogenous phenylalanine increases tolerance to White rot (Sclerotinia sclerotiorum)

In addition to increasing resistance to White rot disease in sweet basil as shown in the Example above, phenylalanine spray and drench treatments (identical to those described in Example 6 for sweet basil) also increase the resistance of tomato leaves to this fungus, related to botrytis (Figures 6A-B).

Figure 6B shows tomato leaflet infected by Sclerotinia sclerotiorum causing white mold disease. Example 8

Treatment of lemon with exogenous phenylalanine increases tolerance to Mai secco disease, caused by the Plenodomus tracheiphilus syn Phoma tracheiphila fungus

Lemon plants in pots were treated with 4 mM Phe water solutions either by drenching 10 ml of solution per pot or spraying, as described for tomato. Infection was carried out by conidia suspension of Plenodomus tracheiphilus after leaf wounding by a needle. Both treatments increased the resistance of the plant leaves to the fungus, as shown in Figures 7A. Disease incidence was evaluated according to the amount of successful infection sites on the infected leaves and presented as percent of infected leaves.

Figure 7B shows a lemon Leaf showing typical mal secco disease caused by Plenodomus tracheiphilus.

Example 9

Treatment of avocado fruit, postharvest, with exogenous phenylalanine increases tolerance to Alternaria alternate

Avocado fruits of the cultivar 'Ettinger' were dipped in water or 1 mM or 4mM phenylalanine for 30 seconds and stored for one day at 5 °C. Then the avocado fruit were inoculated at the fruit equatorial with Alternaria alternata at the concentration of 10 5 conidia / ml at two sides of the fruit. The decay area was monitored during 6 days post inoculation, while incubation at 23 °C. Significantly, dipping at phenylalanine at 1- 4mM reduced the area of brown spots caused by Alternaria alternata by four folds 6 days post inoculation (see Figure 8).

Example 10

Treatment of cucumber plants with exogenous phenylalanine increases tolerance to Pythium aphanidermatum

Cucumber plantlets cv. Bet Alpha and grown in peat based growing medium were treated either by drenching 4 mM phenylalanine solution, 10 ml per pot containing 4 plants each, and the percent plantlets that survived was determined in each treatment. Figures 9A shows the percentage of dead plants due to damping off disease {Pythium aphanidermatum) in Phe-treated and -untreated pots. Figure 9B presents two pots of each treatment; Pots in the lower row were not treated and pots in upper row were treated with 4 mM Phe.

Example 11

Spraying tomato and petunia plants with Tyrosine results in increased resistance to B. cinerea, similar to Phe.

Tomato plants (Figure 10A) and Petunia plants (Figure 10B) were infected with Botrytis as described above. Tyr, Phe at concentrations of 0.5 mM applied by spraying both alone and in combination reduced B. cinerea infection. Disease was evaluated as mentioned above. Similar results were obtained with 4 mM of Tyr or Phe applied by spraying both alone and in combination (Results not presented).

Although the invention has been described in conjunction with specific embodiments thereof, it is evident that many alternatives, modifications and variations will be apparent to those skilled in the art. Accordingly, it is intended to embrace all such alternatives, modifications and variations that fall within the spirit and broad scope of the appended claims.

All publications, patents and patent applications mentioned in this specification are herein incorporated in their entirety by reference into the specification, to the same extent as if each individual publication, patent or patent application was specifically and individually indicated to be incorporated herein by reference. In addition, citation or identification of any reference in this application shall not be construed as an admission that such reference is available as prior art to the present invention. To the extent that section headings are used, they should not be construed as necessarily limiting.

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