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BIOCONTROL FUNGI FOR CONTROL

OF PLANT PATHOGENS:
A WHOLE DIFFERENT BIOCONTROL
GAME

ROBERT LARKIN
USDA-ARS, New England Plant, Soil, and Water Lab
Orono, ME
Biocontrol of plant pathogens and disease
is fundamentally different from biocontrol of
weeds, insects, or other animals. Emphasis is
placed on disease control rather than pathogen
control, and in some cases the pathogen is not
targeted at all. Thus, very different
characteristics are involved, and this biocontrol
only rarely resembles the traditional approach of
using debilitating pathogens or parasites to
destroy a target organism. These characteristics
have important implications on the potential
impacts of these biocontrol agents and
approaches.
Biocontrol Fungi for Control of Plant Pathogens

I. Introduction

II. Distinctive Characteristics

III. Organisms Used

IV. Approaches Used

V. Impacts
Distinctive Characteristics of Biocontrol of Plant
Pathogens
 Diverse mechanisms of action
 Competition
 Antibiosis
 Parasitism/Predation
 Induced Resistance

 May not directly attack target pathogen


 Protection of specific infection sites
 Inhibition or suppression of activity
 Induce defense responses

 Limited access to pathogen (soilborne)


 Soil incorporation
 Short-term survival in soil
Biocontrol Fungi Used Control of
 Trichoderma spp. Seed, stem, root rots,
 harzianum, virens Pythium, Rhizoctonia,
 hamatum, atroviride, koningii Fusarium, many others

 Coniothyrium minitans Sclerotinia spp.

 Fusarium oxysporum Fusarium wilt


(nonpath.strains)
Others
Gliocladium catenulateum Paecilomyces lilacinus
Ampelomyces quisqualis Phlebia gigantea
Candida oleophila Pythium oligandrum
Sporidesmium sclerotivorum Penicillium spp.
Approaches to minimize inundative applications
 Site-specific applications
 Seed Treatments
 Transplant treatments
 In-furrow application

 Strain selection and enhancement


 Rhizosphere competence – T. harzianum
 Antibiotic production – T. virens
 Efficacy at reduced inoculum rates – F. oxysporum

 Manipulation of environment (favorable for


biocontrol)
 Rotations, amendments, nutrients
 Solarization
Effect of inoculum density of two different
biocontrol strains on control of Fusarium wilt
100
CS-20
80
Wilt incidence (%)

Fo47

60

40

20

0
1 10 100 1,000 10,000 100,000
Biocontrol CFU/g soil
Larkin and Fravel, 1996
Approaches to minimize inundative applications
 Site-specific applications
 Seed Treatments
 Transplant treatments
 In-furrow application

 Strain selection and enhancement


 Rhizosphere competence – T. harzianum
 Antibiotic production – T. virens
 Efficacy at reduced inoculum rates – F. oxysporum

 Manipulation of environment (favorable for


biocontrol)
 Rotations, amendments, nutrients
 Solarization
Impact of Biocontrol Fungi (unintended effects)
From Cook et al., 1996 (Biological Control 7:333)

 Displacement of nontarget organisms

 Allergenicity (humans, animals)

 Toxigenicity

 Pathogenicity
Impacts
Displacement of nontarget organisms

 Beneficial organisms

 Changes in soil microbial characteristics

 Population dynamics
 Functional attributes
 Structural attributes

 BCA recovery
 high root colonization
 low soil populations
Soil Microbial Characteristics
Current Research - Biocontrol of Rhizoctonia
solani (stem canker and black scurf) on Potatoes

 Trichoderma harzianum (T-22)


 Trichoderma virens (Gl-21)

 Pathogen inoculum (85 kg/ha ) prior to planting.


 Biocontrol - In-furrow application at planting.

 Other treatments:
 Bacterial agents (Bacillus subtilis, Burkholderia cepacia)
 Chemical seed treatment (Evolve)
 Chemical/biological treatment (Evolve/Bcep)
 Nontreated & Path-treated control

 Soil microbial characteristics assessed at end of


season (post-harvest)
Soil bacteria and pseudomonas populations
after biocontrol treatments (end of season) )
CFU/g soil (x10 4 ) CFU/g soil (x106 ) 50 Bacteria
40
30
20 T.har
10 T.vir
0 Evolve
120
a Pseudomonas
100 ab ab No Path
ab
80 Path
b
60

40

20

0
Soil fungi and Trichoderma populations
following biocontrol treatments (end of season)
CFU/g soil (x106 ) 60 Fungi

40

20 T.har
T.vir
0
3
a Trichoderma Evolve
CFU/g soil (x106 )

ab
2.5 No Path
ab
2 ab Path
1.5
b
1

0.5

0
Soil microbial activity following biocontrol
treatments (end of season)

0.6 T.har
a T.vir
ab
0.55
Optical Density

ab Evolve
ab
bc bc Ev/Bcep
0.5 c
c B.subtilis
B.cepacia
0.45
No Path
0.4 Path
Microbial activity
Soil Microbial Characteristics
(after one field season – potato crop)
 Functional attributes
 Substrate utilization assays
 no consistent effects
 chemical- lower for some substrate
groups

 Structural attributes
 FAME profiles
 no overall effects
 no major shifts in microbial communities
 no change in biomarkers
Impacts

 Allergenicity (humans & other animals)


 no direct evidence (none found)
 dusts in manufacturing, application

 Toxigenicity (nontarget)
 plants (phytotoxins)
 other microorganisms

 Pathogenicity
other crop plants
other microrganisms-
mycoparasites
CONCLUSIONS
 Biocontrol of plant pathogens is distinctly different from
traditional biological control , involving different
mechanisms, effects, and approaches, resulting in different
challenges and different types of potential impacts.

 Most probable impacts are on nontarget root and soil


microbes and plants. Most effects observed on and around
roots. Few residual effects observed in soil.

 Rigorous strain selection, site-specific application, and


move towards inoculative or augmentive applications can
limit potential nontarget impacts.

 Overall, long-term and/or adverse effects appear minimal.


Although much more information needed.