The fungus Arthrobotrys dactyloides is one of several nematode-trapping species with biocontrol potential. Despite experimentation over a period of 50 years, these fungi have never been developed for use in agriculture for a variety of reasons. Recently, mass rearing techniques for production in liquid culture, conversion into commercial formulations, and effectiveness of the A. dactyloides product were evaluated in lab and greenhouse studies in Australia.
Even though A. dactyloides grows more slowly than many fungi that are mass produced for biocontrol purposes, adequate biomass was obtained in liquid culture in a bioreactor. The main problem is formulating a commercially acceptable product. Because the fungus is very sensitive to desiccation, rapid drying procedures cannot be used, and a diphasic system (transfer to a solid substrate after liquid culture to complete mass production) may not be commercially viable. Further work on formulation methods is needed.
The results were encouraging: the fungus proliferated well from granules and consistently produced traps in soil. It was effective in reducing the number of root-knot nematodes in the soil by up to 96% in greenhouse experiments. If granules containing the fungus are applied around the roots of a transplanted crop, such as tomato, they may be active enough to substantially reduce the number of root-knot nematodes entering the roots during the first few weeks of growth.
Stirling, G. R., L. J. Smith, K. A. Licastro, and L. M. Eden. 1998. Control of root-knot nematode with formulations of the nematode-trapping fungus Arthrobotrys dactyloides. Biol. Control 11:224-230.
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