Department of Plant Pathology, North Dakota State University, Fargo 58105.
Isolates of Helminthosporium solani, the causal agent of silver scurf of potato, collected from multiple locations consistently show white sectoring and rings, differential coloration, and reduced sporulation in culture. It has been accepted that this growth pattern is normal for H. solani cultures. Scanning electron microscopy confirmed the presence of a contaminating fungus in close association with cultures of H. solani. Repeated hyphal tip isolation techniques were used to separate H. solani from the fungal contaminant. Resultant pure cultures of H. solani were uniformly black in color, without white sectors or rings. The contaminating fungus was identified as Acremonium strictum. The purpose of this study was to elucidate the relationship between A. strictum and H. solani, and evaluate the impact of the fungicolous A. strictum on the growth and biology of H. solani. In vitro studies demonstrated that A. strictum significantly reduced sporulation of H. solani isolates from 65 to 35%, spore germination from 53 to 43%, and mycelial growth from 40 to 32% compared with noncontaminated cultures of H. solani. These data indicate that A. strictum is antagonistic to H. solani, and can be considered a mycoparasite. A. strictum reduced H. solani conidia production on minitubers, thereby reducing inoculum for infection. However, treatment with A. strictum does not reduce silver scurf of previously infected tubers. Further studies are warranted to determine the full potential of A. strictum as a biological control agent of H. solanii-incited silver scurf of stored potato tubers and the most effective manner of use.