H. A. J.
Department of Plant Pathology, The Ohio State University/OARDC, Wooster 44691
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Accepted for publication 19 June 2005.
Several factors affect the ability of Trichoderma spp. to provide systemic disease control. This paper focuses on the role of the substrate in which plants are grown, resistance of the host to disease, and the ability of introduced Trichoderma inoculum to spread under commercial conditions. Several reports reveal that foliar disease control provided by Trichoderma spp. is more effective on plants grown in compost-amended media compared with in lower-in-microbial-carrying-capacity sphagnum peat media. In Rhododendron spp., host resistance affects control of Phytophthora dieback provided by Trichoderma spp. For example, T. hamatum 382 (T382) significantly (P = 0.05) suppressed the disease on susceptible cv. Roseum Elegans while plant vigor was increased. The disease was not suppressed, however, on highly susceptible cvs. Aglo and PJM Elite even though the vigor of these plants was increased. Using a strain-specific polymerase chain reaction assay under commercial conditions, it was demonstrated that introduced inoculum of T382 did not spread frequently from inoculated to control compost-amended media. Other Trichoderma isolates typically are abundant in control media within days after potting unless inoculated with a specific Trichoderma isolate. Thus, the low population of isolates that can induce systemic resistance in composting and potting mix environments may explain why most compost-amended substrates do not naturally suppress foliar diseases.
© 2006 The American Phytopathological Society