Location: Fruit and Tree Nut ResearchTitle: Built-in protection against pecan pests via a friendly fungal endophyte
Submitted to: Georgia Pecan Growers Association
Publication Type: Other
Publication Acceptance Date: 9/23/2020
Publication Date: 9/23/2020
Citation: Shapiro Ilan, D.I., Bock, C.H., Vega, F.E., Wells, L. 2020. Built-in protection against pecan pests via a friendly fungal endophyte. Georgia Pecan Growers Association. https://georgiapecan.org/.
Technical Abstract: Entomopathogenic fungi are used to control a wide variety of economically important insect pests in various cropping systems. Some of these fungi, such as Beauveria bassiana, can kill pecan pests such as pecan weevil (Curculio caryae) and pecan aphids. When used commercially, the beneficial fungi are usually applied to the crop using standard spray equipment. However, certain entomopathogenic fungi, such as, B. bassiana, have also been found to kill insect pests when living inside plants as endophytes. Conceivably, if endophytic fungi can protect a plant from insects or disease, then treatment costs may be lower compared with spray programs. We discovered that two beneficial fungal species (B. bassiana and Metarhizium brunneum) can be inoculated into pecan tree seedlings and subsequently exist as endophytes. Moreover, we discovered that the established endophytic fungi can provide protection to pecan. In laboratory and greenhouse tests we observed reduced survival in pecan aphids and reduced growth of the pecan disease, Phytophthora shuck and kernel rot. In future research we will expand our studies to determine the potential for the endophyte approach under field conditions.