Project Details:

Exploiting potential bio-control agents to manage seedling diseases of soybean

Parent Project: This is the first year of this project.
Checkoff Organization:North Central Soybean Research Program
Categories:Soybean diseases
Organization Project Code:
Project Year:2015
Lead Principal Investigator:Ahmad Fakhoury (Southern Illinois University)
Co-Principal Investigators:
Alison Robertson (Iowa State University)
Martin Chilvers (Michigan State University)
Jason Bond (Southern Illinois University at Carbondale)
Carl Bradley (University of Kentucky)
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Keywords: Biological Control, Disease Management, Fungicide Seed Treatments, Genetic Resistance to Diseases, Nematodes, Seedling Diseases, Soiborne Pathogens

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Funding Institutions

Information and Results

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Project Summary

This research project will characterize the bio-control activity of a collection of fungal species isolated from soybean production fields. The ultimate goal is to use these potential bio-control agents to enhance efficiencies in managing Soybean Diseases caused by pathogens present in the soil, such as, Fusarium spp., Phytophthora sojae, Pythium spp. This can be achieved either by introducing these bio-control agents to soybean production fields, and/or by fine-tuning existing management practices so that the prevalence and activity of bio? control agents native to production fields are enhanced.

Extensive research has been conducted to identify and characterize bio-control agents that could be used to control fungal and bacterial plant pathogens as well as plant pathogenic nematodes. These bio-control agents include fungal and bacterial species as well as viruses. Bio-control agents were found to affect the ability of plant pathogens to cause disease through different mechanisms. Some bio-control agents compete with pathogens for nutrients, thus impacting the pathogen's ability to survive in the soil. Others were found to directly parasitize plant pathogens. Finally, some Bio-control agents reduce the severity of diseases by enhancing defense mechanisms in plants, and rendering those plants more tolerant to infections by potential plant pathogens.

The ultimate goal of this project is to reduce yield losses caused by seedling diseases by characterizing native bio-control agents already present in the soil and by refining management strategies to enhance and optimize the activity of these beneficial organisms against pathogens detrimental to soybean seedlings.

Project Objectives

1. Test the effect of a set of recently identified potential bio-control agents on soil? inhabiting fungal, oomycete, and nematode pathogens of soybean.
2. Assess potential roles of these agents in eliciting defense mechanisms in soybean plants.
3. Test the effect of fungicidal seed treatments on these organisms.
4. Follow the effect of continuously used management practices on the distribution and activity of these organisms in the soil.

Project Deliverables

Progress of Work

Bio-control activity of fourteen potential bio-control agents against 6 soybean pathogens was screened. Potential bio-control agents were shared with the laboratories participating in this research.

Final Project Results

Fifty-eight potential bio-control agents (BCA) were tested against 7 fungal pathogens. Several specific BCAs showed activity against Fusarium graminearum, Fusarium virguliforme and Macrophomina phaseolina.

Fourteen BCAs were tested against 12 oomycete species. Some of the BCAs demonstrated trends of plant protection against particular Pythium species.

Fourteen BCAs were evaluated for their sensitivity to different fungicide active ingredients. Preliminary results indicated that some of the BCAs could be added with a fungicide seed treatment with minimal inhibition occurring.

Preliminary data indicates that, in addition to their antibiotic activity against plant pathogens, some of the BCAs also seem to induce resistance mechanisms in soybean, thus providing an additional layer of protection against seedling pathogens.

Benefit to Soybean Farmers

The proposed research will result in the identification of bio-control agents that could effectively control major soybean pathogens. The generated data will also provide information regarding the mechanisms these agents use to affect soybean pathogens. This information is crucial to exploit the activity of these bio-control agents against plant pathogens by using them as soil or seed amendments or by identifying management practices that enhance the activity of bio-control agents already present in soybean production fields. The ultimate goal is to provide soybean growers with cost-effective tools to increase and sustain profitability by managing diseases.

Performance Metrics

1. The activity of at least 13 potential bio-control agents will be evaluated against several fungal and oomycete species as well as against nematodes
2. The activity of the bio-control agents to confer resistance against select fungal, oomycete, and nematode species will be assessed under controlled conditions
3. PCR probes specific to the most efficient bio-control species will be developed
4. PCR probes will be used to assess the effect of commonly used management practices on the distribution and activity of these bio-control species in the soil
5. Sensitivity of the bio-control agents to commonly used seed treatments will be assessed to identify seed treatments that could be used effectively in conjunction with the bio-control agents.

Project Years