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Birte Boelt

Exploring the potential of symbiotic fungal endophytes in cereal disease suppression

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Cereal crops are an essential source of nutrition worldwide. The incidence and severity of fungal diseases, in particular foliar diseases such as leaf spots, mildews and rusts, is a serious challenge to cereal production, and this problem is likely to escalate with the changing global climate. Traditional and current methods for controlling fungal pathogens include the use of fungicides, good farming practices, and increasing plant resistance through conventional breeding. While effective, these strategies also carry limitations, mainly due to fungicide-resistance, breakdown of plant resistance, and environmental and health concerns surrounding the use of chemical treatments. There is currently a demand for new disease control strategies, and one such strategy involves the use of symbiotic fungal endophytes as biological control agents against fungal pathogens in cereals. Despite the fact that biological control by symbiotic fungal endophytes has been documented, particularly with respect to clavicipitaceous endophytes in C3 cool-season grasses, this area remains relatively underexplored in cereals. We highlight for the first time the potential in using symbiotic fungal endophytes to control foliar cereal diseases, and we discuss important considerations surrounding this.

Original languageEnglish
JournalBiological Control
Pages (from-to)69-78
Number of pages10
Publication statusPublished - 2012

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