Submitted to: Plant Microbe Interactions and Biological Control
Publication Type: Book / Chapter
Publication Acceptance Date: May 30, 1996
Publication Date: N/A
Technical Abstract: This book chapter presents a review of work on the beneficial fungus Sporidesmium sclerotivorum. The plant pathogenic fungus Sclerotinia minor and related fungi cause millions of dollars in crop losses each year. S. sclerotivorum attacks and decomposes these pathogens. S. sclerotivorum is called an obligate parasite, since it can use only the pathogen for food. In the absence of the pathogen, S. sclerotivorum does not survive. Thus, there are no undesirable effects of S. sclerotivorum on man or the environment. S. sclerotivorum makes numerous spores in soil and can grow up to 1.25 inches through soil to seek out the pathogen. The capacity to increase in number and to spread through soil, makes it possible to achieve control of the pathogen by applying small amounts of S. sclerotivorum. S. sclerotivorum works best on crops, such as lettuce, that are harvested by hand rather than machinery. With hand harvesting, the structures of the pathogen remain close together which facilitates spread of S. sclerotivorum. In crops, such as beans, that are harvested mechanically, the structures of the pathogen are widely dispersed, making it more difficult for S. sclerotivorum to grow from one pathogen structure to the next. S. sclerotivorum is expected to become a commercial product. Use of S. sclerotivorum would benefit vegetable growers by providing economical, environmentally 'friendly' disease control.