AIM: Support of implementation of the reformed CAP with respect to the reduction of environmentally harmful plant protection products by developing economically sound production methods compatible with the requirements of protection of the environment.
OBJECTIVE: Minimizing the use of and dependence on chemicals in the control of plant diseases of leaves, stems and fruits.
STATE OF THE ART: The natural phenomenon of competition between saprophytic and necrotrophic pathogenic fungi in dead plant material will' be exploited in order to suppress the dissemination (sporulation) of the pathogen. The common saprophytic fungus Ulocladium atrum competes successfully in dead plant material with Botrytis cinerea and other fungi.
Preliminary experiments demonstrated the validity of this approach to control diseases caused by polycyclic air-borne plant pathogens sporulating on dead plant tissue such as B. cinerea (grey mould), a major global pathogen on grapevine, strawberries, tomatoes, cucumber, protein crops and ornamentals. In the EU, in grapevine alone, annual costs of fungicides for control are c. 150 million ECU. Fungicide-resistance threathens economic crop production and accumulates the use of chemicals.
Breeding for host-resistance against B. cinerea is not likely to be successful. In order to demonstrate its non-specificity, the proposed Ibiocontrol method will also be tested against Septorioses, causing serious damage in wheat and vegetables.
RESULTS: A multidisciplinary research effort of universities, research stations and industry will result in a novel non-specific biological method of sporulation suppression ready for commercialization that can be applied against Botrytis, Septorioses and other necrotrophic pathogens in integrated as well as organic farming systems.
I MAIN RESEARCH COMPONENTS ARE:
1. Quantitative analysis of interactions between the antagonist and the pathoge in necrotic tissue with respect to environmental factors, spore production in a crop, epidemiology, yield and quality. Biocontrol of B. cinerea will be explored at practical scale in strawberries and grapevine as field crops and in tomato as one-season greenhouse crop; biocontrol of Septorioses will be explored in wheat.
2. Development of a simulation model of interaction in order to predict the efficacy of biocontrol under different environmental conditions.
3. Integration of biocontrol with new fungicides. Assessment of reduction of chemical input and of risk.of fungicide-resistance in IPM.
4. Mechanism of substrate colonization by the antagonist, with emphasis o the hydrolytic enzymes involved. Needed for mechanism-oriented formulations and strain selection.
5. Possibilities for mass production of the antagonist. Comparison of various fungal propagules, fermentation conditions and formulation.
6. Preliminary toxicological studies.
7. Technology assessment.
Funding SchemeCSC - Cost-sharing contracts