by University of Göttingen
Protecting crops against pests and diseases is essential to ensure a secure food supply. Around 95 percent of food comes from conventional agriculture, which uses chemical pesticides to keep crops healthy. Increasingly, however, organic pesticides are also being sought as an alternative. Some organic pesticides contain live spores of the fungus Trichoderma, which have the ability to suppress other pathogens. Researchers at the University of Göttingen have now discovered that one Trichoderma species can cause severe rot in cobs of maize (corn). The results were published in the journal Frontiers in Agronomy.
The massive outbreak of a previously unknown species of Trichoderma on corn cobs in Europe was first detected in Southern Germany in 2018. In affected plants, grey-green spore layers formed on the grains of corn and between the leaves that form the husks of the cobs. In addition, the infested grains germinated prematurely. For this study, the scientists brought maize plants in the greenhouse into contact with Trichoderma by inoculation. They were then able to prove that the dry matter content of the maize cobs is greatly reduced. Annette Pfordt, Ph.D. student at the Department of Crop Sciences of the University of Göttingen and first author of the study, analysed 18 separate Trichoderma strains mainly from maize cobs in Southern Germany and France over two years. She found that some of these strains are highly aggressive with a cob infestation of 95 to 100 percent. By means of molecular genetic analyses, these spores could be assigned to the relatively new species Trichoderma afroharzianum. Within this species of fungus, previously unknown plant-pathogenic strains seem to have evolved which are now responsible for this newly discovered disease affecting maize.
Read on: https://phys.org/news/2020-10-products-crops.html