Mycotoxin Research Unit, National Center for Agricultural Utilization Research, U.S. Department of Agriculture--Agricultural Research Service, Peoria, IL 61604.
Acremonium zeae produces pyrrocidines A and B, which are polyketide-amino acid-derived antibiotics, and is recognized as a seedborne protective endophyte of maize which augments host defenses against microbial pathogens causing seedling blights and stalk rots. Pyrrocidine A displayed significant in vitro activity against Aspergillus flavus and Fusarium verticillioides in assays performed using conidia as inoculum, with pyrrocidine A being more active than B. In equivalent assays performed with conidia or hyphal cells as inoculum, pyrrocidine A revealed potent activity against major stalk and ear rot pathogens of maize, including F. graminearum, Nigrospora oryzae, Stenocarpella (Diplodia) maydis, and Rhizoctonia zeae. Pyrrocidine A displayed significant activity against seed-rotting saprophytes A. flavus and Eupenicillium ochrosalmoneum, as well as seed-infecting colonists of the phylloplane Alternaria alternata, Cladosporium cladosporioides, and Curvularia lunata, which produces a damaging leaf spot disease. Protective endophytes, including mycoparasites which grow asymptomatically within healthy maize tissues, show little sensitivity to pyrrocidines. Pyrrocidine A also exhibited potent activity against Clavibacter michiganense subsp. nebraskense, causal agent of Goss's bacterial wilt of maize, and Bacillus mojaviense and Pseudomonas fluorescens, maize endophytes applied as biocontrol agents, but were ineffective against the wilt-producing bacterium Pantoea stewartii.