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Microbial Uptakes for Sustainable management of major bananA pests and diseases

Periodic Reporting for period 3 - MUSA (Microbial Uptakes for Sustainable management of major bananA pests and diseases)

Periodo di rendicontazione: 2020-06-01 al 2021-11-30

Problems addressed
Plant parasitic nematodes (PPN), Fusarium wilt (FW, F. oxysporum f. sp. cubense) and weevils (BW, Cosmopolites sordidus) are main threats to banana (Musa spp.) and enset (Ensete ventricosum), worldwide. In sub Saharan Africa (SSA) many pesticides, withdrawn in the EU, continue to be (mis)used, with threats to farmers, environment and consumers. The severe F. oxysporum TR4 attacks Cavendish bananas and is spreading in Africa, and Latin America. Farmers lack sustainable means of management for the cited pests. Data are needed to develop tools based on biocontrol agents and acquire knowledge on the effects of soil, rhizosphere and plant microorganisms. The gap to fill is how linking/exploiting beneficial plant and soil microbiota in safer production systems.
Social importance
Banana is a high income export and a basic diet crop in the EU. In SSA and Caribbean regions million farmers rely on cooking bananas as key staple food and for income. In the Tropics and Sub-tropics Cavendish variety replaced Gros Michel for export, as the latter is susceptible to FW. Many local varieties are used in the Tropics for domestic consumption. In these systems, pests and diseases cause billion € losses, affecting the food security of million small growers, and the income of small holders or commercial growers. TR4 is a severe threat to food security of million people in SSA and Caribbean. All these issues require an intensification of scientific efforts on low impact, organic pest management to ensure the sustainability of such crops. Exploitation perspective is getting a "greener" approach in pest management.
Overall objectives
MUSA aims at new Integrated Pest Management (IPM) or organic methods based on microbial consortia, studying phenotypic and molecular reactions of plants to the biotic stresses. Main goal is the sustainable intensification of crops, improving resilience through locally adapted IPM strategies based on endophytes and biocontrol agents (EBCAs) and tested germplasm. Partners aim at characterizing EBCAs, evaluating in the field their interactions with banana lines, and identifying genes involved in resistant/tolerant or susceptible responses. EBCAs include entomopathogenic nematodes (EPN) for BW biocontrol. Dissemination, communication and exploitation actions allow persistence of Project impact after completion.
The Consortium applied fungi, bacteria and EPN lines to manage banana threats in three world regions, testing most promising strains in lab and greenhouse. Procedures were set up for large scale production of EBCAs and EPN, and bioformulations. Data on plants response to EBCAs were produced, testing exploitation in IPM or bio-management. EBCAs include Trichoderma spp. acting as plant growth promoters or active vs the PPN Radopholus similis; Pochonia chlamydosporia, a plant growth promoter (PGP) antagonistic of PPN and FW, and bacteria (Bacillus, Streptomyces, Pseudomonas spp.) tested vs FW or PPN. Root endophytism of P. chlamydosporia was demonstrated in in-vitro and controlled conditions. SUitable EPN and fungi were identified for BW biocontrol. In vitro and lab assays were carried out on isolates biology, including DNA sequencing for identification. Sampling studies on banana corm and rhizosphere microbial diversity were carried out in Tenerife (Spain) and Costa Rica farms, and in germplasm fields of IITA, in Uganda. An effective Beauveria bassiana isolate was produced in SSA, and is now in use. A non-pathogenic F. oxysporum endophyte (V5W2) isolated by IITA effectively controlled nematodes, with a PGP effect. Further studies showed links of plant health with soil and corm microbial communities, identifying factors sustaining management in conjunction to climate and other crop traits. Data were produced on root gene expression during parasitism by Pratylenchus goodeyi and TR4. Data on gene expression of banana roots were produced in tri-trophic interactions with P. chlamydosporia and pests, and a microbial community including Trichoderma and Streptomyces spp. showed growth promotion or plant defense elicitors. Antagonism vs PPN was discovered for T. asperellum isolates and some natural products (i.e. xanthine). Chitosan, a natural defense elicitor, did not affect banana at doses inhibitory for fungal pathogens. Dissemination and Communication events were carried out. Two Project meetings were organized by IITA at Kampala (Uganda) and EARTH (Costa Rica), followed by a stakeholders workshop. The Second and Third Meeting were organized in Cuba and Kenya, respectively. The Second international conference with stakeholders was organized on line (May 2020). The interactions among plant-pests and EBCAs or PGP were investigated, uploading genomic, metagenomic and transcriptomic raw sequence data, on FAIR public repositories. More than 12 microbial isolates or populations were finally selected for exploitation in the different regions, some of which are commercialized by Project stakeholders. The species mostly used were T. asperellum and P. chlamydosporia, with Pseudomonas and Bacillus spp. Modelling banana production and FW impact was performed, to assess impact of climate change on production prices, simulating mechanisms of transmission to retail prices. Modelling showed infrastructures facilitating FW spread such as irrigation canals or roads. More than 45 OA scientific articles were produced, with others in press, and dissemination papers. Links and scientific initiatives continued after the Project termination, among and beyond the Consortium, connecting researchers and stakeholders in an international network. Activities include new research collaborations, production of scientific articles, proposals for new projects, initiatives with stakeholders to promote results for pest management, bioformulations and commercialization of EBCAs as sustainable tools in plant protection, worldwide.
MUSA produced new strategies for sustainable protection of banana crops and data to forecast impact of climate threats. Data mining of Musa spp., enset, P. chlamydosporia, F. oxysporum, P. fluorescens PICF7 and PPN genomes underpin IPM concepts integrating -omic data to improve plant response and reduce pest damage. MUSA generated: i) EBCAs and eco-friendly bio-based tools disrupting pest communication or inducing plant defence response, ii) data on resistant/tolerant plant resources, iii) new resilience model parameters, iv) IPM systems based on use of biological resources; v) new bioformulations for biocontrol and IPM, vi) banana production models and pathogens spread simulation data. Exploitation perspectives include: i) EBCAs isolates already commercially produced by participating SMEs or partner institutions, ii) substitution of pesticides with safer sustainable methods, iii) two exploitable patents produced on volatile compounds and chitosan, iv) distribution to farmers of healthy plants primed with EBCAs and v) feasible strategies for crop protection. Potential use of results aims at future replacement of pesticides by organic EBCAs-based products. Impact is achieved through the reduction of pesticide dependency. A key outcome is partners' collaboration in future research work, integrating communication and dissemination action to keep impact after project completion.
Studying banana weevils attack, Uganda
Kick-off meeting in Tenerife, Canary Islands, Spain (Aug. 28 - Sept 1, 2017)
Effect of Panama disease on var. Gran Enana, Tenerife
The fatal effect of banana weevils on plant, Uganda