Table Grapes New Ally: Muscodor albus
By Marcia Wood
April 16, 2010
Small but mighty, a beneficial microbe
called Muscodor albus may help protect fresh grapes from troublesome
gray mold. Experiments conducted over the past several years by
Agricultural Research Service (ARS) plant
L. Smilanick and his ARS and industry colleagues have shown that M.
albus can combat Botrytis cinerea, the organism that causes gray
Gray mold can ruin the taste and appearance of fresh-market grapes,
according to Smilanick.
For organic growers, Botrytis is especially troublesome because these
producers cant use the typical treatment, sulfur dioxide, to quell it.
Thats why, if commercialized, M. albus could benefit conventional
and organic growers alike.
Smilanick, who is based at the ARS
Joaquin Valley Agricultural Sciences Center near Parlier, Calif.,
collaborated in Muscodor experiments with microbiologist
Mansour and visiting scientist Franka M. Gablerboth at
Parlierand with industry colleagues.
Muscodor acts as a natural fumigant by emitting compounds, harmless
to people and animals, that can kill or inhibit the spread of certain other
microbes, such as B. cinerea. For example, in experiments with packaged
Thompson Seedless grapes, Smilanick and co-investigators found that
Muscodor reduced the incidence of Botrytis-infected grapes by up
to 85 percent.
A 2009 article in the journal Plant Disease
documents their findings.
ARS and the California Table Grape
Commission funded the research. ARS is the chief intramural scientific
research agency of the U.S. Department of
Agriculture (USDA). The Muscodor research contributes to
international food security, a USDA priority.