BACKGROUND: Pythium ultimum is a plant pathogen that causes significant yield losses on many economically important crops. Chemical treatment has been used for disease control. In searching for alternatives, venom piperidine and piperideine alkaloids from red imported fire ants were tested against P. ultimum in vitro, and piperideines were employed to control cucumber damping-off in the greenhouse as drench treatments.
Results Piperidine and piperideine alkaloids of the red imported fire ant significantly inhibited mycelium growth of P. ultimum. Piperidine alkaloids were stable at both room and elevated temperatures. The inhibitory activity positively correlated with the concentrations of piperidine alkaloids in the medium, and the EC50 = 17.0 µg ml−1. Germination of sporangia of P. ultimum was negatively correlated with the concentrations of piperidine alkaloids in the medium, and the EC50 = 12.3 µg ml−1. The piperideine alkaloid drenching treatment significantly improved seedling emergence and seedling height of cucumber.
CONCLUSION: This is the first report describing the use of venom alkaloids from the red imported fire ant to inhibit P. ultimum in the laboratory and the application of piperideine alkaloids to control damping-off disease caused by P. ultimum in the greenhouse. These findings may lead to the development of a new group of fungicides. Copyright © 2012 Society of Chemical Industry