During the 19th and 20th centuries, across the world, Fusarium Head Blight (FHB) and crown rot diseases of cereals were caused by Fusarium graminearum, a phytopathogenic fungus. In the last two decades, many countries, known as producers of large quantities of good quality wheat, barley, and maize, have lost huge yields due to F. graminearum. Since there is still a growing challenge, several investigations and solutions are being studied that can have positive impacts, such as strong inhibiting effects of plant derived secondary metabolites and several fungal biocontrol agents (BCA), against this enemy.
Plants are subjected to biotic and abiotic stress factors throughout their lifespan. Besides these normal fluctuations of factors in their surroundings, some conditions i.e., global climatic changes and altered levels of pollution, have increasingly been contributing to damage in plants. Among these factors, drought and salinity in the soil are responsible for the greatest damage to plant growth, reproduction and defense mechanisms. As a consequence, phytopathogenic fungi seem to be emerging as predominant plant diseases.
The control of F. graminearum and FHB is mainly carried out using synthetic fungicides, such as triazole, which can be dangerous for animals and humans, even with short-term exposure. Nevertheless, fungicides provide efficient and good results for protecting wheat, and other cereals, from FHB within short time intervals. However, high levels of genomic plasticity and unplanned and/or unnecessary fungicide usage have resulted in fungicide resistance development in F. graminearum. Thus, both potential health hazards and fungicide resistance related to fungicides led scientists to seek novel strategies to combat F. graminearum.
Nowadays, microorganisms which can compete with phytopathogenic fungi, named as “ecologically friendly”, have been focused on by farmers and scientists in cereal-planted areas. There are already some Trichoderma species-based products deployed in the fight against Fusarium oxysporum and some other fungi, but none of these BCA products have become a common tool for the fight against F. graminearum in the field. Thus, there were not enough studies investigating the combat between Trichoderma species and F. graminearum. A group of researchers, from three different universities in Turkey, showed the potential for adverse effects of Trichoderma atroviride on F. graminearum by transcriptomic analysis, for the first time. mRNA populations strongly related to primary and secondary metabolism were significantly altered in response to T. atroviride treatment against the phytopathogen F. graminearum. The next step for observing this battle between T. atroviride and F. graminearum is taking this analysis to the field.
Evrim Özkale Kaya, Emre Yörük, Mahir Budak and Ertan Mahir Korkmaz published this study in Plant Pathology:
TITLE IMAGE: Petri dishes showing cultures of Trichoderma and Fusarium graminearum. All images used with permission of the author.