Saving Cotton Plants With Fungi

Posted Apr 21, 2015 by Tim Sandle
Scientists have analysed a beneficial fungus that can work as a disease control agent to protect cotton crops from pathogens.
Cotton bolls ready for harvest
Cotton bolls ready for harvest
The fungus is called Trichoderma koningiopsis, and it is very efficient at killing other types of fungi that attack the cotton plant.
The main cause of damage to cotton plants is from the soil fungus Phymatotrichum omnivorum. This causes so-called “Texas rot”, this is probably the primary disease of the cotton plant. The disease causes sudden wilt and death of affected plants, usually during the warmer months. The disease affects cotton plants in the U.S. and Mexico. Eradication or control of Texas root rot is very difficult. The main defense is through crop rotation, alternating cotton in fields with other crops like soybeans.
Some help is at hand for farmers. Laboratory studies have shown that T. koningiopsis can kill and inhibit the growth of the harmful fungus without causing any harm to the cotton plant itself. This means that a crop spray solution could be devised to help treat infected plants.
The fungus can also be used as a preventative measure. The studies reveal that it produces a product called indole acetic acid. When this acid is mixed with the seed before planting, it provides a measure of protection.
The research was conducted by scientists working from the Center of Genomic Biotechnology from the National Polytechnic Institute (IPN-CBG) in Mexico. The findings have yet to be published.