First and third authors: Department of Plant Pathology, Ohio State University, Columbus 43210; first, second, and fourth authors: U.S. Department of Agriculture-Agricultural Research Service (USDA-ARS), National Center for Agricultural Utilization Research (NCAUR), Peoria, IL 61604
Fusarium head blight (FHB), caused by Gibberella zeae, is a devastating disease of wheat worldwide. Cryptococcus nodaensis OH 182.9 is an effective biocontrol agent for this disease. Development of a dried product of OH 182.9 would have potential advantages of ease of handling, favorable economics, and acceptance by end users. Isolate OH 182.9 was grown for 48 and 72 h in semi-defined complete liquid (SDCL) medium with carbon-to-nitrogen (C/N) ratios of 6.5:1, 9:1, 11:1, 15:1, and 30:1, and in SDCL C/N 30:1 media with varied carbon loadings of 7, 14, 21, and 28 g/liter. Total biomass production and cell survival at 15 days after freeze-drying were evaluated. Biomass production of OH 182.9 (CFU per milliliter) was not different for all cultivation time by medium C/N or carbon loading combinations. In general, cells harvested at 48 h survived freeze-drying better than those harvested at 72 h. Survival of freeze-dried cells was greatest for cells grown for 48 h in C/N30:1 medium. Cells produced in C/N 6.5:1 medium generally exhibited the poorest survival. For the C/N 30:1 media, cells from 7 g/liter carbon loading medium harvested after 48 h had the best survival after freeze-drying. The difference in freeze-dried cell populations between superior and inferior treatments was typically 1 to 2 log units at 15 days after freeze-drying. The biomass of OH 182.9 produced in SDCL with varied C/N ratios and in SDCL C/N 30:1 media with differing carbon loadings was tested for biocontrol efficacy against FHB in greenhouse studies. The biomass harvested from SDCL C/N 9:1, 11:1, and 15:1 media after 48 h significantly reduced symptoms of FHB. None of the treatments with cells harvested at 72 h consistently reduced FHB severity (P ≤ 0.05). Cells grown in SDCL C/N 30:1 media with 7 and 14 g/liter carbon loading significantly reduced FHB disease severity. Cells harvested from SDCL C/N 9:1, 11:1, and 30:1 with 14 g/liter carbon increased the 100-kernel weight compared with the disease control. The potential of improving OH 182.9 product quality via management of the nutritional environment of the production medium is demonstrated in this study.