The broader impact of this SBIR Phase I project will be in developing a crop protective agent that reduces negative environmental impacts and improves overall crop yield. Many common food crops, including tomatoes and peppers, are highly susceptible to fungal contamination; these organisms are rapidly developing resistance to the chemical pesticides widely used today. The objective of this project is to develop and test a new biofungicide consisting of beneficial fungi to protect plants from variety of diseases and plagues. This solution does not cause harm to the environment and offers a way to manage pesticide-resistant pathogens, which cost approximately $10 billion in the farming market. The proposed project will optimize the biofungicide for the many types of soils, crops and pathogens common across the country. A series of laboratory tests will be conducted to determine the optimal composition of the solution. <br/><br/>The proposed project involves designing an effective bioprotectant and biostimulant, consisting of two different Trichoderma strains, to provide enhanced protective effects against harmful fungi and bacteria, with the added benefit of boosting plant health and improving overall crop yield. This project will develop new formulations of the blended strain biofungicide to provide maximum flexibility in their application, stability for storage and delivery, as well as testing and optimizing their efficacy in new and unproven combinations of plants, soils and growing conditions. The merits of the bioprotectant anti-fungal have already been demonstrated in preliminary experiments, but only for limited combinations of crops and soils. Relevant environments will be tested in this project. Additionally, previous tests have been conducted with dry formulations of Trichoderma, and thus the proposed research will focus on the two key objectives of (i) proving efficacy in new contexts and (ii) developing stable liquid formulations. To this end, a wide matrix of formulations will be tested with a variety of soils, crops and pathogens.<br/><br/>This award reflects NSF's statutory mission and has been deemed worthy of support through evaluation using the Foundation's intellectual merit and broader impacts review criteria.