Armillaria mellea is an important fungal pathogen worldwide, affecting a large number ofhosts in the horticulture and forestry industries. Controlling A. mellea infection is expensive,labour intensive and time-consuming, so a new, environmentally friendly management solution is required. To this effect, endophytic Trichoderma species were studied as a potentialprotective agent for Armillaria root rot (ARR) in strawberry and privet plants. A collection offorty endophytic Trichoderma isolates were inoculated into strawberry (Fragaria × ananassa) plants and plant growth was monitored for two months, during which time Trichoderma treatment had no apparent effect. Trichoderma-colonised strawberry plants werethen inoculated with A. mellea and after three months plants were assessed for A. melleainfection. There was considerable variation in ARR disease levels between plants inoculated with different Trichoderma spp. isolates, but seven isolates reduced ARR below thelevel of positive controls. These isolates were further tested for protective potential in Trichoderma-colonized privet (Ligustrum vulgare) plants where five Trichoderma spp. isolates,including two highly effective Trichoderma atrobrunneum isolates, were able to significantlyreduce levels of disease. This study highlights the potential of plants pre-colonised with T.atrobrunneum for effective protection against A. mellea in two hosts from different plantfamilies.
- Plant Diseases/microbiology