Biocontrol of Plant Diseases Laboratory, USDA, ARS, Beltsville Agricultural Research Center, Beltsville, MD 20705-2350
Fusarium oxysporum f. sp. erythroxyli is being investigated as a mycoherbicide for the narcotic plant coca. Sporulation of the fungus in seven formulations containing different organic substrates and movement of its propagules through soil were studied. The formulations were a granular wheat flour/kaolin (pesta); an extruded wheat and rice flour (C-6); and five alginate pellet products containing corn cobs, soybean hull fiber, canola meal, rice flour, or rice flour plus canola oil. Formulations were incubated at 25°C for 6 weeks in desiccators with various salt solutions to provide nine relative humidities (RH), ranging from 100% (pure deionized water) to 0% (anhydrous (CaSO4). Hyphae of F. oxysporum f. sp. erythroxyli grew out of alginate pellets with canola meal, rice, and rice plus canola oil as early as 24 h at 100% constant RH. Alginate pellets of rice plus canola oil and granular C-6 and pesta formulations consistently produced more microconidia, macroconidia, and CFU than the other four formulations at all RH tested. The C-6 formulation produced more propagules than the other formulations at low RH (<53%). Canola meal pellets produced more spores than three other formulations when exposed to fluctuating RH (100 to 75%). The effect of percolating water on spore movement through soil was studied using a plant-pathogenic isolate of F. oxysporum f. sp. niveum. To determine the effect of water percolation on propagule movement, formulations were placed on soil columns and artificial rain was applied. In general, 10-fold fewer CFU were recovered at a 8- to 10-cm depth compared with a 0- to 2-cm depth.