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Piriformospora indica  a possible biological control agent
M. RABIEY (1), M. W. Shaw (1). (1) University of Reading, Reading, United Kingdom

<i>Piriformospora indica</i> (Sebacinacea) forms mutualistic symbioses with a broad range of host plants, assisting in nutrient acquisition, increasing biomass production and resistance/tolerance to fungal pathogens/abiotic stresses. Fusarium crown rot (FCR) and head blight (FHB) are two of the most important diseases of wheat globally. There is no significant control strategy available. Inoculation of wheat seedlings with UK isolates of <i>F. culmorum, F. graminearum</i> and/or <i>P. indica </i>under glasshouse and simulated UK autumn conditions showed that the amount of <i>Fusarium </i>DNA in roots grew rapidly in <i>Fusarium-</i>inoculated alone. In pots co-inoculated with <i>P. indica,</i> <i>Fusarium</i> DNA was reduced with no visible symptoms; suggesting <i>P. indica</i> can protect wheat seedlings from FCR damage. Winter and spring wheat samples were inoculated with<i> P. indica </i>(at sowing) and/or <i>F. graminearum</i> (at flowering) under natural conditions. <i>P. indica </i>reduced FHB disease severity and  mycotoxin deoxynivalenol in the grains. The effect of <i>P. indica</i> on soil/plant nutrients and on the most important weeds is being tested in the 2014-15 growing season. <i>P. indica</i> viability under UK weather conditions was tested in four different soil types after winter/summer by PCR/RT-PCR. <i>P. indica</i> was still alive in the soil after 4 months and in 6/20 pots after 8 months, will be tested again this year. The effect of <i>P. indica</i> on other soil microorganisms was tested by PCR-Denaturing Gradient Gel Electrophoresis.

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