Biological control of Botrytis stem infection of greenhouse tomatoes



Botrytis cinerea infects stem wounds of greenhouse tomatoes and can cause serious economic losses. A bioassay using stem sections was developed to study wound infection and to screen potential fungal antagonists for activity against BotrytisCladosporium cladosporioides reduced infection from 80–100% to 0–10%. A much smaller proportion of Trichoderma harzianum gave this reduction. Similar results were obtained on whole plants. Penicillium isolates varied widely in activity. The concentration of Cladosporium and Trichoderma which gave the highest level of protection was c. 108 cfu/mL. When only half the wound was treated, simulating poor spray coverage, Cladosporium isolates still prevented infection. By contrast, Trichoderma isolates and four fungicides failed to give the same level of protection. The ability of certain fungal isolates to colonize the wound surface was thought to be partly responsible for this activity. The successful application of antagonists to whole plants using both aqueous suspensions and gel secateurs is described.