Department of Plant Protection, Huazhong Agricultural University, Wuhan, 430070, China
Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, Lethbridge Research Centre, PO Box 3000, Lethbridge, AB, T1J 4B1, Canada
Fungal and bacterial antagonists were tested for their inhibition of sporulation of Botrytis cinerea on detached alfalfa florets. Clonostachys rosea, Gliocladium catenulatum, and Trichoderma atroviride were evaluated for protecting young blossoms and pods of alfalfa from infection by B. cinerea in vitro. C. rosea was further tested to control pod rot and seed rot caused by B. cinerea under field conditions. The results showed that four of the tested antagonists, C. rosea, G. catenulatum, T. atroviride, and Trichothecium roseum, could inhibit sporulation by B. cinerea on detached alfalfa florets. Both C. rosea and G. catenulatum were effective in suppression of infection of alfalfa pods by B. cinerea when inoculated on fresh petals of alfalfa at the anthesis stage, and their efficacy was greater than that of Trichoderma atroviride. A significant suppression of B. cinerea by C. rosea and G. catenulatum on pods and seed of alfalfa was observed when they were inoculated on senescent petals at the pod-development stage. Results of a field trial indicated that C. rosea applied to upper parts of alfalfa plants significantly suppressed pod rot and seed rot caused by B. cinerea, and significantly increased seed production of alfalfa in each of 3 years. These studies show that C. rosea has potential as a biocontrol agent for control of alfalfa blossom blight caused by B. cinerea.