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POSTERS: Biological control

Biological control of black Sigatoka in bananas and plantains in Sub-Saharan Africa
Mathias Twizeyimana - AgBiome, Inc. David Ingham- AgBiome, Inc, Robin Dale- AgBiome, Inc, Kestrel Mccorkle- AgBiome, Inc, James Sievert- AgBiome, Inc, Esther Gachango- AgBiome, Inc, Matthew Biggs- AgBiome, Inc, Amos Alakonya- International Institute of Tropical Agriculture, Kelly Craig- AgB

Black Sigatoka, also known as black leaf streak, caused by Mycosphaerella fijiensis (M. Morelet) (anamorph: Pseudocercospora fijiensis), is regarded as the most damaging and economically important disease of banana and plantain (Musa spp.) worldwide. Chemical control and resistant cultivars remain the two dominant strategies to control this disease. However, most synthetic fungicides used are hazardous to the environment, pose a risk of resistance development in the pathogen population, and are not easily accessible to small-holder farmers especially in Sub-Saharan Africa. Other alternative management strategies that are easily accessible and less costly to farmers are needed. The discovery of biological products that can effectively control black Sigatoka may result not only in improved integrated pest management programs for the management of this disease, but also reduction of the high risk of fungicide resistance in M. fijiensis populations. At AgBiome, we identify microbial-based solutions for agricultural pathogens and pests by leveraging a diverse and growing collection of fully sequenced microbes from the plant-soil microbiome. We selected over 400 microbial strains randomly or prioritized by genomic features from our collection and screened them in a laboratory-based assay and several gave promising results after three rounds of testing. Seven strains that were most effective are being further evaluated in Nigeria under greenhouse and field trials.