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Genetic and Biological Diversity of Trichoderma stromaticum, a Mycoparasite of the Cacao Witches'-Broom Pathogen

January 2006 , Volume 96 , Number  1
Pages  61 - 67

Jorge T. de Souza , Alan W. V. Pomella , John H. Bowers , Carlos P. Pirovani , Leandro L. Loguercio , and K. Prakash Hebbar

First author: Wye Research and Education Center, University of Maryland, Queenstown 21658; first and sixth authors: U.S. Department of Agriculture-Agricultural Research Service, Sustainable Perennial Crops Laboratory, BARC-West, Beltsville 20705; second author: Almirante Cacau Agrícola Comércio e Exportação Ltda, Caixa Postal 55, 45630-000 Itajuípe, BA, Brazil; third author: Bowers Consulting Services, Laurel, MD 20707; fourth and fifth authors: Universidade Estadual de Santa Cruz, BR 415, Km 16, Ilheus, BA, 45662-000, Brazil; and sixth author: Masterfoods, Hackettstown, NJ 07840

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Accepted for publication 28 August 2005.

The witches'-broom disease, caused by the basidiomycete Crinipellis perniciosa, is the most limiting factor for cacao cultivation in Brazil. Trichoderma stromaticum is a mycoparasite of the witches'-broom pathogen of cacao that is currently being applied in the field to manage the disease in Bahia State, Brazil. In this work, molecular and traditional methods were used to study the genetic and biological diversity of this mycoparasite. Ninety-one isolates, mostly collected from farms not sprayed with the fungus, were analyzed by amplified fragment length polymorphisms (AFLP), which showed that two genetic groups (I and II) of T. stromaticum occur in Bahia State. This classification of T. stromaticum into two distinct AFLP groups was also in agreement with several other characteristics, including growth on agar media at different temperatures and sporulation on infected stem segments (broom pieces) and rice grains. Group II favors higher temperatures compared with group I. The genetic and biological differences of the isolates, however, were not evident in field experiments, where sporulation was evaluated on the surface of brooms under natural conditions. Our results show that there is considerable genetic and biological diversity within T. stromaticum in Bahia and other cacao-growing regions of South America that are affected by the witches'-broom disease. This diversity could be explored in the development of efficient biological control agents against the disease. Factors that may affect the application and performance of this biocontrol agent in the field, such as sporulation on rice substrate and on the brooms and growth at various temperatures, are discussed.

Additional keywords: fingerprinting, Theobroma cacao.

© 2006 The American Phytopathological Society