Use of fungal antagonists for biocontrol of damping-off and sclerotinia diseases


  • Based on a paper presented at the meeting “Biological Control: Use of Living Organisms in the Management of Invertebrate Pests, Pathogens and Weeds”, organised by the SCI Pesticides Group and held at the SCI. 14/15 Belgrave Square, London SWIX 8PS, UK on 19-20 October 1992


Two mycoparasites, Pythium oligandrum and Coniothyrium minitans, have been tested for their ability to act as disease biocontrol agents. P. oligandrum oospores, grown in a cane molasses liquid medium and coated onto cress and sugar-beet seeds using commercial thin-film or pelleting techniques, gave significant control of damping-off in cress and sugar-beet caused by Pythium ultimum and Aphanomyces cochlioides respectively, in glasshouse pot trials. In some cases, the control was equivalent to fungicide drenches or standard fungicide seed treatments, but little control was achieved with any treatment when the pathogen inoculum potential in the soil was high. Pre-planting application of a solid substrate preparation of C. minitans gave reproducible control of sclerotinia disease in the glasshouse. The degree of control was equivalent to that achieved with regular foliar sprays of vinclozolin, when there was less than 40% disease in the control plots naturally infested with Sclerotinia sclerotiorum. At higher disease levels biocontrol was lost. Nevertheless, C. minitans survived in the soil for over one year and continued to degrade sclerotia and reduce apothecial production. The commercial potential of these biocontrol agents is discussed.