Project Number: 8042-22000-298-06-I
Project Type: Interagency Reimbursable Agreement
Start Date: Aug 1, 2016
End Date: Jul 31, 2017
ARS will conduct research of fungal community composition and function in boxwood plants, and the role that these factors play in boxwood blight disease. ARS will study the persistence of foliar endophytes in boxwood cuttings with and without heat treatment, and their impact on subsequent disease incidence. ARS will examine the persistence of Trichoderma fungi in the boxwood phyllosphere and rhizosphere.
In partnership with collaborators at North Carolina State University, ARS will use next-generation sequencing and metabar coding technologies to profile the survival of fungi on boxwood cuttings after heat treatment. ARS will determine whether selected fungal biocontrol agents exhibit an increased ability to colonize and persist in the stems of heat-treated boxwood. The proposed research may potentially provide insight into whether beneficial microorganisms that normally reside in boxwood leaves and stems can be “transplanted” or “reintroduced” into a boxwood cutting with a reduced population of microbes due to heat treatment to increase the growth of boxwood and suppress disease. ARS will use next-generation sequencing and metabar coding technologies to profile the survival of Trichoderma biocontrol fungi applied to boxwood plants, and how persistence of these fungi may impact the growth of the boxwood blight fungus and concurrent blight disease severity.