Determining the infection process of Phoma macrostoma that leads to bioherbicidal activity on broadleaved weeds

Karen L. Bailey, Wayne Pitt, Frances Leggett, Claudia Sheedy, Joanne Derby

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23 Citations (Scopus)


Isolates of the fungus Phoma macrostoma cause intense photobleaching and mortality of Canada thistle(Cirsium arvense), dandelion (Taraxacum officinale) and other broadleaved weeds when applied to the soil.The symptoms are caused by the production of macrocidins which have been extracted from culturedmycelium and the growth medium broth. The objective of this study was to determine the pathway ofinfection that leads to plant damage resulting in bioherbicidal activity. This was accomplished by firstdetermining which infective unit (i.e., conidia and/or mycelium) resulted in plant damage when appliedto a host. Then the infection process was microscopically observed from infested granules placed in thesoil through the various stages of colonization and penetration in a resistant and a susceptible host. Conidiawere ineffective as infective units because there was no plant damage when target weeds were inoculatedusing either a foliar spray of a conidial suspension or granules containing conidia placed in the soil.Only mycelium of the fungus applied either pre-emergently to soil ahead of weed seed emergence orpost-emergently to soil containing established weeds resulted in significant plant damage. Microscopicobservations showed that P. macrostoma 94-44B mycelium germinated from formulated granules in soil,colonizing roots of dandelion (susceptible) and barley (resistant) within 7 days of application. The fungusentered the hosts at sites proximal to root hairs where wounding of the cells was most likely, and growingintercellularly towards the root core. In dandelion, the mycelium proliferated around the vascular tracheadisrupting the competence of neighboring cells. In barley, proliferation was less obvious beingrestricted to the outer layers and there was no disruption of the internal cell structure. P. macrostomaboasts potential as a bioherbicide to control susceptible broadleaved weeds but not harm resistant nontargethosts.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)268-276
Number of pages9
JournalBiological Control
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2011

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