Fungal fumes clear out crop pests

Feb 19, 2010

A cocktail of compounds emitted by the beneficial fungus Muscodor albus may offer a biologically based way to fumigate certain crops and rid them of destructive pests. That's the indication from Agricultural Research Service (ARS) studies in which scientists pitted Muscodor against potato tuber moths, apple codling moths and Tilletia fungi that cause bunt diseases in wheat.

The scientists--at ARS laboratories in Aberdeen, Idaho; Wapato, Wash., and other locations--conducted separate studies of Muscodor. However, their goal was the same: to learn whether (VOCs) released by the fungus could replace or diminish the use of synthetic pesticides.

In field trials conducted since 2007, ARS plant pathologist Blair Goates found that treating wheat seed or the soil with a formulation of Muscodor and ground rye completely prevented common bunt under moderate disease conditions. Caused by the fungus T. tritici, common bunt reduces wheat yields and grain quality. Although chemical fungicide seed treatments have kept common bunt outbreaks to a minimum, alternative controls are worth exploring if the chemicals lose effectiveness or are discontinued, notes Goates, with the ARS Small Grains and Potato Germplasm Research Unit in Aberdeen. Results from this study were published in the Canadian Journal of Microbiology.

At the ARS Yakima Agricultural Research Laboratory in Wapato, entomologist Lerry Lacey and colleagues tested Muscodor against potato tuber moths, which damage potato leaves and tubers, and apple codling moths, which feed inside apples. In fumigation chamber tests, 85 to 91 percent of adult codling moths died when exposed to Muscodor fumes, while 62 to 71 percent of larvae died or failed to pupate. In apple storage tests, a 14-day exposure to Muscodor killed 100 percent of cocooned codling moth larvae, which are especially difficult to control.

Lacey and colleagues have also been testing Muscodor's effectiveness in biofumigating sealed cartons of apples stored at various temperatures. The results have been encouraging so far, he reports, and there appears to be no adverse effect on the apples' color, firmness or other characteristics.

Explore further: Thirty new marine protected areas declared in Scotland

More information: Read more about this research in the February 2010 issue of Agricultural Research magazine, available online at: www.ars.usda.gov/is/AR/archive/feb10/pests0210.htm .

Provided by United States Department of Agriculture

3 /5 (1 vote)
add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Bacterium Identified as Potato Disease Culprit

Oct 14, 2009

(PhysOrg.com) -- Studies tying a new species of Candidatus Liberibacter bacteria to zebra chip (ZC) disease in potato should speed efforts to better protect the tuber crop from costly outbreaks.

Sweet Potato Protection is More Than Skin Deep

Oct 15, 2009

(PhysOrg.com) -- Sweet potatoes are a seasonal staple that earn U.S. producers some $370 million every year. Now Agricultural Research Service (ARS) scientists have found traits in sweet potatoes that someday ...

Fungus-on-Fungus Fight Could Benefit Chickpeas

Dec 08, 2009

(PhysOrg.com) -- The fungus Ascochyta rabiei threatens chickpea crops the world over. But now this blight-causing pathogen could meet its match in Aureobasidium pullulans, a rival fungus that Agricultural ...

Cuphea Does Wonders for Wheat and Corn in Rotations

Jan 11, 2010

(PhysOrg.com) -- Growing the oilseed plant called cuphea the year before growing wheat results in better wheat seedling survival and grain that is 8 percent higher in protein, according to an Agricultural ...

Recommended for you

Study indicates large raptors in Africa used for bushmeat

Jul 24, 2014

Bushmeat, the use of native animal species for food or commercial food sale, has been heavily documented to be a significant factor in the decline of many species of primates and other mammals. However, a new study indicates ...

Noise pollution impacts fish species differently

Jul 24, 2014

Acoustic disturbance has different effects on different species of fish, according to a new study from the Universities of Bristol and Exeter which tested fish anti-predator behaviour.

User comments : 0