On plants, microbial populations interact with each other and their host through the actions of secreted metabolites. However, the combined action of diverse organisms and their different metabolites on plant health has yet to be fully appreciated. Here, the multifactorial nature of these interactions, at the organismal and molecular level, leading to the biological control of plant diseases is reviewed. To do so, we describe in detail the ecological significance of three different classes of secondary metabolites and discuss how they might contribute to biological control. Specifically, the roles of auxin, acetoin, and phenazines are considered, because they represent very different but important types of secondary metabolites. We also describe how studies of the global regulation of bacterial secondary metabolism have led to the discovery of new genes and phenotypes related to plant health promotion. In conclusion, we describe three avenues for future research that will help to integrate these complex and diverse observations into a more coherent synthesis of bacterially mediated biocontrol of plant diseases
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