the research in Agricultural Research..
Test Yeasts Anti-Scab Mettle
By Ben Hardin
May 31, 2001
A beneficial yeast is making its debut
in the first wide-scale U.S. tests comparing effectiveness of biological and
chemical controls for Fusarium head blight, also known as scab disease. Tests
are under way in small experimental plots scattered across the eastern half of
the United States.
Scab is getting attention because losses attributed to it in the past decade
have been estimated in excess of $3 billion to U.S. farmers.
An obscure yeast called Cryptococcus nodaensis was chosen for the new
tests through laboratory and field experiments. It and six runners-up were
selected from nearly 1,000 yeasts and bacteria screened by plant pathologists
with the Agricultural Research Service
and Ohio State University. OSU
and the U.S. Department of Agriculture have
applied for a patent on the magnificent seven microbes.
At the ARS National Center for Agricultural Utilization Research (NCAUR), at Peoria, Ill., David A.
Schisler and his colleagues researched conditions needed to reproduce the best
yeast at top speed. This spring, they supplied sufficient microbes for the
Uniform Wheat Fungicide Trials. This cooperative project, funded by USDA
through the U.S. Wheat and Barley Scab
Initiative, will provide direct comparisons of scab control measures, in
various environments, from year to year. The experiment stations involved
include those of Arkansas, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Maryland, Michigan,
Minnesota, Missouri, New York, North Dakota, Ohio, South Dakota and Virginia.
The researchers weighed their choices of microbes according to several
considerations, one of which was the microbes resistance to registered
and experimental fungicides. Other considerations included the microbes
ability to grow on low-cost sources of carbon and nitrogen, their ability to
survive and remain healthy in storage, and their effectiveness after storage in
arresting the growth of Fusarium graminearum, the fungus that causes
For the field tests, the researchers grew C. nodaensis on a growth
medium reminiscent of the corn steep liquor-based medium used in the 1940s at
NCAUR in penicillin-production experiments that helped launch the antibiotics
ARS, the USDAs chief scientific research agency, is seeking
cooperators to speed development of the biological control technology.
An article about the research appears in the June issue of ARS'
Agricultural Research magazine.
Scientific contact: David A. Schisler, ARS National Center for
Agricultural Utilization Research, Peoria, Ill., phone (309) 681-6567, fax
(309) 681-6427, email@example.com.