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The Effect of Endophytic Fusarium verticillioides on Infestation of Two Maize Varieties by Lepidopterous Stemborers and Coleopteran Grain Feeders

February 2002 , Volume 92 , Number  2
Pages  120 - 128

F. Schulthess , K. F. Cardwell , and S. Gounou

International Institute of Tropical Agriculture, 08 BP 0932, Cotonou, Benin

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Accepted for publication 9 October 2001.

A series of experiments were conducted to test the effect of the presence of Fusarium verticillioides in the maize plant on subsequent infestation by coleopteran and lepidopteran pests. The effect of percent internodes 1 to 5 infected with F. verticillioides, time after planting, and maize variety on attacks of stem and ears by lepidopterous and coleopteran pests was assessed in field experiments in early and late season 1998 and early season 1999 in Benin Republic. Artificial inoculation of the first internode with fungal-treated toothpicks was compared with a hot-water-fungicide seed treatment and a control. In 1998, two varieties that differed in husk tightness, the improved DMRLSR-W and the local Gbogbe, were used. Percentage of node 1 to 5 and plants infected was highest with the inoculation treatment but tended to be similar in the seed treatment and the control. The infection rate tended to increase with time and, within sampling date, decreased with node level. Ear infection was strongly correlated with percent infected nodes, indicating that F. verticillioides in the stem predisposed kernel infection. F. verticillioides incidence was higher in Gbogbe than in DMRLSR-W. Stem and ear infestations by the pyralid Eldana saccharina, the major pest in the area, tended to be highest in inoculation and lowest in the protection treatment. The same trends were found for the pyralid Chilo spp., the tortricid Cryptophlebia leucotreta, and beetles pooled across species. Significant positive correlations were found between ear/stem F. verticillioides infection and E. saccharina, Cryptophlebia leucotreta, Mussidia nigrivenella, and the noctuid Sesamia calamistis, but the latter three pest species were only significantly correlated with fungal infection of the upper nodes of the plant. Similar to disease incidence, E. saccharina numbers in stem and ear were higher in Gbogbe than DMRLSR-W in late 1998, whereas for the pyralid ear feeder M. nigrivenella, it was reversed. It was suggested that some lepidopterous and coleopteran pests are attracted by and survive longer (or have lower mortality) on plants infected with F. verticillioides.

Additional keywords: fungus-insect interaction.

The American Phytopathological Society, 2002