Identification of potential fungal biocontrol agents for the management of ripgut brome
Keywords:seedbank, weed manageme, arable, seed pathogen, Marasmius sp., Fusarium sp.
Ripgut brome (Bromus diandrus) is a significant weed in arable systems with cereals being negatively impacted through yield reduction and contamination of harvested grain. There are limited herbicide options for its control, and reduction of the weed seed bank is a key part of its management. Ripgut brome seeds were incubated in three soils known to harbour a range of plant pathogens, and a range of fungi were subsequently isolated from ungerminated seeds. The most prevalent putative fungal pathogens isolated were Fusarium spp. and Marasmius sp. Selected isolates were cultured on artificial media and tested for their ability to inhibit germination of ripgut brome seeds in a series of in vitro assays, with many isolates completely inhibiting germination. When isolates were tested for their activity against non-target arable species in plant assays, three of five Fusarium spp. isolates significantly inhibited germination of oats and barley while a Marasmius sp. isolate had no effect on germination of these species. Further plant assays using four Marasmius sp. isolates against a wider range of plant species (oats, barley, ryegrass, brome, cocksfoot, and prairie grass) indicated some variability between Marasmius sp. isolates, with two isolates slightly inhibiting germination of some plant species, while two isolates (W14, W17) had no adverse effects. Sequencing of the ITS region of the Marasmius sp. isolates indicated that they were closely related but distinct from M. graminum, which is known to have some phytopathogenic activity and M. oreades which has not yet been reported as a plant pathogen. Further investigation of the Marasmius isolates as potential biocontrol agents for ripgut brome seed is warranted.