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Antagonism of the Two-Needle Pine Stem Rust Fungi Cronartium flaccidum and Peridermium pini by Cladosporium tenuissimum In Vitro and In Planta

May 2001 , Volume 91 , Number  5
Pages  457 - 468

Salvatore Moricca , Alessandro Ragazzi , Keith Richard Mitchelson , and Gemma Assante

First author: CNR, Istituto per la Patologia degli Alberi Forestali, Piazzale delle Cascine 28, 50144, Firenze, Italy; second author: Dipartimento di Biotecnologie agrarie, Sezione di Patologia vegetale, Università di Firenze, Piazzale delle Cascine 28, 50144, Firenze, Italy; third author: Australian Genome Research Facility, Gehrmann Laboratories, University of Queensland, St Lucia 4072, Australia; and fourth author: Istituto di Patologia Vegetale, Università di Milano, Via Celoria 2, 20133, Milano, Italy

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Accepted for publication 31 January 2001.

Selected isolates of Cladosporium tenuissimum were tested for their ability to inhibit in vitro aeciospore germination of the two-needle pine stem rusts Cronartium flaccidum and Peridermium pini and to suppress disease development in planta. The antagonistic fungus displayed a number of disease-suppressive mechanisms. Aeciospore germination on water agar slides was reduced at 12, 18, and 24 h when a conidial suspension (1.5 × 107 conidia per ml) of the Cladosporium tenuissimum isolates was added. When the aeciospores were incubated in same-strength conidial suspensions for 1, 11, 21, and 31 days, viability was reduced at 20 and 4°C. Light and scanning electron microscopy showed that rust spores were directly parasitized by Cladosporium tenuissimum and that the antagonist had evolved several strategies to breach the spore wall and gain access to the underlying tissues. Penetration occurred with or without appressoria. The hyperparasite exerted a mechanical force to destroy the spore structures (spinules, cell wall) by direct contact, penetrated the aeciospores and subsequently proliferated within them. However, an enzymatic action could also be involved. This was shown by the dissolution of the host cell wall that comes in contact with the mycelium of the mycoparasite, by the lack of indentation in the host wall at the contact site, and by the minimal swelling at the infecting hyphal tip. Culture filtrates of the hyperparasite inhibited germination of rust propagules. A compound purified from the filtrates was characterized by chemical and spectroscopic analysis as cladosporol, a known β-1,3-glucan biosynthesis inhibitor. Conidia of Cladosporium tenuissimum reduced rust development on new infected pine seedlings over 2 years under greenhouse conditions. Because the fungus is an aggressive mycoparasite, produces fungicidal metabolites, and can survive and multiply in forest ecosystems without rusts, it seems a promising agent for the biological control of pine stem rusts in Europe.

© 2001 The American Phytopathological Society