Submitted to: American Chemical Society National Meeting
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: 8/24/2000
Publication Date: N/A
Technical Abstract: Efforts to reduce mycotoxin contamination in food logically start with minimizing plant infection by mycotoxin producing pathogens. Gibberella zeae infects wheat heads at flowering, causing the disease Fusarium head blight (FHB) and losses of over 2.6 billion dollars in the U.S. during the last 10 years. The pathogen often produces deoxynivalenol (DON) resulting in grain size and quality reduction. Highly resistant wheat varieties are not available for reducing FHB, and labeled fungicides are not consistently effective. We are evaluating the feasibility of biologically controlling FHB. Microbial strains from wheat anthers were screened for their ability to utilize the anther compound, choline, which stimulates early germ-tube growth of G. zeae. Five choline-utilizing strains and two non-utilizers were effective in reducing FHB disease severity by up to 95% in greenhouse and 56% in field trials. Elucidating the mechanisms of biological control and optimizing liquid culture protocols to maximize antagonist efficacy an biomass production will further improve this promising tool for reducing FHB severity and DON contamination of grain in commercial agriculture.