Broad-spectrum inhibition ofPhytophthora infestansby fungal endophytes

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Abstract

Phytophthora infestans is a devastating pathogen of tomato and potato. It readily overcomes resistance genes and applied agrochemicals and hence even today causes large yield losses. Fungal endophytes provide a largely unexplored avenue of control of Phy. infestans. Not only do endophytes produce a wide array of bioactive metabolites, they may also directly compete with and defeat pathogens in planta. Here, we tested 12 fungal endophytes isolated from different plant species in vitro for their production of metabolites with anti- Phytophthora activity. Four well-performing isolates were evaluated for their ability to suppress nine isolates of Phy. infestans on agar medium and in planta. Two endophytes reliably inhibited all Phy. infestans isolates on agar medium, of which Phoma eupatorii isolate 8082 was the most promising. It nearly abolished infection by Phy. infestans in planta. Our data indicate a role for the production of anti-Phytophthora compounds by the fungus and/or an enhanced plant defense response, as evident by an enhanced anthocyanin production. Here, we present a potential biocontrol agent, which can inhibit a broad-spectrum of Phy. infestans isolates. Such broadly acting inhibition is ideal, because it allows for effective control of genetically diverse isolates and may slow the adaptation of Phy. infestans.

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