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Biological control interactions affect plant growth

Ecological interactions in the soil and root environment were studied by EU-funded scientists seeking to better understand how biological control agents (BCAs) suppress plant diseases.
Biological control interactions affect plant growth
Beneficial microorganisms that suppress plant diseases have become a reliable alternative to pesticides. The ITRIS (Interaction Trichoderma-Stenotrophomonas and its effect on plant growth and health) project investigated the interaction between two promising BCAs and assessed their synergistic effect on the suppression of the fungal pathogen Verticillium dahlia and on plant growth and health.

Project partners studied two microorganisms used as BCAs, Trichoderma velutinum G1/8 and Stenotrophomonas rhizophilia DSM14405T. They conducted a detailed investigation into their potential synergistic effect against the soil-borne pathogen Verticillium dahlia on resulting effects on plant growth and health.

Researchers also examined the role of secondary metabolites and volatile organic compounds (VOCs) in order to understand the ecology behind the interaction of the two BCAs.

Results showed that the availability of nutrients was an important factor on the interactions of P69- Trichoderma species and P69-V25 and on the fungal counterpart interacting with P69. Experiments carried out on nutrient-rich media showed significant inhibition of the tested fungal species. However, under nutrient poor conditions the same microorganisms showed a different interaction. P69 behaviour was found to be dependent on the fungal counterpart: Trichoderma species were not affected or stimulated, whereas V. dahlia was significantly inhibited by P69.

These results suggest that, under nutrient rich conditions, P69 can compete very effectively for nutrients causing the significant growth inhibition of fungal counterparts. However, nutrient poor conditions can lead to different mechanisms ranging from mutual support or neutral interactions for Trichoderma species to competition/parasitism for V.dahliae V25.

ITRIS results also indicate that additional synergistic interactions with other species are crucial and that Trichoderma species have the potential to reinforce the antagonistic advantage of a specific S. rhizophila strain. This could be particularly important for developing microbial based strategies for biocontrol and plant-growth promotion, especially under extreme conditions.

Related information

Keywords

Ecological interactions, soil environment, root environment, biological control agents, plant diseases, ITRIS, Verticillium dahlia, Trichoderma velutinum G1/8, Stenotrophomonas rhizophilia DSM14405T
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