Using Friendly Fungi to Protect Potato Plants from Harmful Root Pests

Greg Howard
7th July, 2024

Using Friendly Fungi to Protect Potato Plants from Harmful Root Pests

Image Source: Natural Science News, 2024

Key Findings

  • Researchers in Alexandria, Egypt, found that the fungus Aspergillus flavus can effectively control root-knot nematodes in potato plants
  • A. flavus significantly reduced nematode egg hatching and larval survival, outperforming the chemical pesticide Abamectin
  • The fungus also boosted potato plant defenses, enhancing resistance to nematode infections and improving overall plant health
Root-knot nematodes (RKNs), particularly Meloidogyne incognita, are a major pest affecting potato plants, leading to significant yield losses and economic damage. Traditional chemical pesticides used to control these nematodes have raised environmental concerns and led to the development of resistance in nematode populations. In response, researchers from the City of Scientific Research and Technological Applications (SRTA-City) in Alexandria, Egypt, have explored the use of endophytic fungi as an eco-friendly alternative[1]. Endophytic fungi live inside plant tissues without causing harm and can produce secondary metabolites with nematicidal properties. This study focused on the efficacy of Aspergillus flavus (ON146363), isolated from Trigonella foenum-graecum seeds, against M. incognita. The researchers used gas chromatography-mass spectrometry (GC-MS) to analyze the culture broth of A. flavus, identifying several nematicidal secondary metabolites, including Gadoleic acid, Oleic acid di-ethanolamide, Oleic acid, and Palmitic acid. Additionally, high-performance liquid chromatography (HPLC) revealed biochemical compounds such as Gallic acid, Catechin, and Vanillic acid. The study demonstrated that A. flavus culture filtrate significantly reduced egg hatching and larval mortality of M. incognita, with higher concentrations being more effective than the chemical pesticide Abamectin. The fungus inhibited the development and multiplication of nematodes in potato plants, reducing the number of galls and eggs by 90% and 89%, respectively. Furthermore, A. flavus increased the activity of defense-related enzymes like Chitinas, Catalase, and Peroxidase, enhancing the plant's systemic resistance to nematode infection. This research builds on previous studies that have explored biological control agents for plant pathogens. For example, a study investigating the use of natural biocides such as yeast Metschnikowia pulcherrima, lactic acid bacteria Lactiplantibacillus plantarum, and aqueous garlic extract showed positive effects on potato physiology and reduced mycotoxin production by fungal pathogens[2]. Similarly, another study evaluated the use of microcrystalline cellulose embedded silver nanoparticles (Ag-NPs) as an eco-nematicide against M. incognita, demonstrating that lower concentrations of Ag-NPs were effective in controlling nematode populations[3]. The current study on A. flavus ties together these earlier findings by presenting another sustainable and effective method for controlling RKNs in potato plants. The use of endophytic fungi offers several advantages, including reduced environmental impact and the potential to overcome resistance issues associated with chemical pesticides. In vitro experiments showed that A. flavus culture filtrates, when applied via soil spraying, improved seedling growth and reduced nematode propagation. This resulted in enhanced systemic resistance to nematode infection, making A. flavus a promising biological control agent for RKNs in potato plants. The findings provide a sustainable solution for farmers, minimizing environmental impact while effectively managing nematode infestations. Overall, the study highlights the potential of endophytic fungi as a viable alternative to chemical pesticides for controlling root-knot nematodes in potato plants. By leveraging the natural properties of A. flavus, farmers can achieve better crop protection and yield, contributing to more sustainable agricultural practices.

AgriculturePlant ScienceMycology

References

Main Study

1) Biocontrol potential of endophytic fungi against phytopathogenic nematodes on potato (Solanum tuberosum L.).

Published 5th July, 2024

https://doi.org/10.1038/s41598-024-64056-x


Related Studies

2) Metabolite Formation by Fungal Pathogens of Potatoes (Solanum tuberosum L.) in the Presence of Bioprotective Agents.

https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph20065221


3) Utilization of High throughput microcrystalline cellulose decorated silver nanoparticles as an eco-nematicide on root-knot nematodes.

https://doi.org/10.1016/j.colsurfb.2020.110805



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