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Screening Trichoderma asperellum as a Mycoparasite on Phytophthora ramorum

T.L. Widmer
Research Plant Pathologist with the Foreign Disease and Weed Science Research Unit, USDA Agricultural Research Service

Tim Widmer has been a Research Plant Pathologist with the Foreign Disease and Weed Science Research Unit, USDA Agricultural Research Service, in Fort Detrick, MD since 2006. His principal research interests include biological control and the basic biology of Phytophthora ramorum and P. kernoviae and how they might affect east coast plant species. He currently serves as a mycology editor for New Disease Reports of the British Society of Plant Pathology. He received his Ph.D. in Plant Pathology from the University of Florida and after completing a post-doc at Cornell University, he spent 6 years working at the European Biological Control Laboratory, USDA Agricultural Research Service, in Montpellier, France.

Research Highlight

Figure 1 - Trichoderma asperellum (arrows) demonstrating mycoparasitism of a P. ramorum a) chlamydospore and b) sporangium. Bar = 20 mcg.

Ornamental nurseries infested with Phytophthora ramorum are strictly regulated under Federal and State Agencies.  Approved methods to remediate infested soil are expensive, potentially harmful to the environment, and difficult to implement.  In addition, many nurseries have recurrent infestations after attempts to mitigate the problem have been made.  Our lab has currently been investigating the potential of using biological control agents to reduce plant-to-plant spread and remediate infested soil.  One promising agent, a Trichoderma species, has demonstrated in the laboratory to parasitize P. ramorum and reduce soil populations to non-detectable limits within 2 or 3 weeks after application.  In cooperation with faculty at the National Ornamentals Research Site â?? Dominican University of California and partial funding from APHIS-CPHST, trials have begun to test this biological control agent under mock nursery conditions.  Preliminary results have shown that those plots treated with the experimental biological control agent had significantly lower P. ramorum populations after 2 weeks.  This work is continuing and more data is being collected.  In addition, we are investigating under greenhouse conditions at whether this agent can be used in potting mixes to help reduce the spread of P. ramorum and limit the damage caused by other Phytophthora species to ornamentals.

Read the full paper: Screening Trichoderma asperellum as a Mycoparasite on Phytophthora ramorum

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