Formulation of Clonostachys rosea biocontrol agent for efficacy against fusarium disease in wheat and soybean

Project Code BPI09-050

Project lead

Gordon Genge - ICUS Canada

Objectives

To produce a basic formulation of C. rosea strain ACM941 for 2009 field testing against Fusarium Head Blight in wheat and root rot in soybeans; and produce and deliver five refined prototype commercial formulations of the same biocontrol organism for evaluation in greenhouse and field crops

Summary of Results

Background

Fusarium head blight (FHB), caused by Gibberella zeae(syn. Fusarium graminearum), is one of the most important wheat diseases in Canada. The infection of wheat by the pathogen results in grain yield loss, quality reduction, and kernel contamination with deoxynivalenol (DON) and other mycotoxins. Current management of this disease relies on fungicides in most wheat production areas. Multiple fungicide applications have increased the economic cost to growers and public concerns regarding pesticide risks and pathogen resistance to fungicides. Clonostachys rosea ACM941 is a mycoparasite biopesticide developed by Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada scientist Dr Allen Xue, and its efficacy for the control of Fusarium head blight has been demonstrated in several greenhouse and field trials supported by the Pest Management Centre (PMC; Project codes BPI07-110, BPI08-020, BPI09-040 and BPI09-070). In addition, preliminary laboratory and greenhouse experiments also showed that ACM941 significantly suppresses root rot, a major soybean disease caused by members of the Fusarium complex including F. graminearum, F. oxysporum, and F. solani. The aim of this project was to develop various ACM941 formulations and provide different formulation prototypes for subsequent efficacy trials assessing the control of FHB in wheat and root rot in soybean. The efficacy trials will help identify an appropriate formulation for commercialization.

Approaches

To formulate Clonostachys rosea ACM941, ICUS developed a commercial production and formulation system. The ACM941 commercial formulation prototypes, designated as CLO-1, were produced by the facility and made available for a related project assessing the efficacy of the biopesticide against FHB and soybean root rot (BPI10-020).

Results

Five CLO-1 formulation prototypes were prepared by ICUS in collaboration with Cornell University and provided to project BPI10-020 for an evaluation of their efficacy in the control of FHB and soybean root rot. A requirement of the PMC project BP109-050 with ICUS was the development of a commercial production and formulation system for Clonostachys rosea strain ACM941. ICUS invested approximately $1.5 million to build a commercial production facility for agricultural microbial fermentation in a leased facility in Mount Pearl, Newfoundland.

ICUS prepared formulations for the project using a modified version of a bench top system developed at Cornell University. ICUS is presently developing a more efficient commercial system where a 270 litre pilot scale fermentation vessel will be modified for the production of ACM941 using a liquid to semi-solid fermentation process. Formulating procedures developed as part of this PMC project with ICUS were transferred to ICUS by Dr. Gary Harman at Cornell University so that both production and formulation can be tested at pilot scale in the commercial plant in 2011/2012. ICUS has a 3000 litre vessel on site for the commercial production of the biopesticide CLO-1 in the future.

The five prototype formulations have been tested against FHB in wheat in project BPI10-020. All prototypes showed significant efficacy for the control of FHB and a reasonable shelf life at 4°C. Among them prototype 3 was numerically superior to the others, reducing the area under the disease progress curve by 82.9%, infected spikelet by 81.9% and Fusarium-damaged kernels by 72.7%; and increasing wheat yield by 55.7% and thousand kernel weight by 26.0% (see BPI10-020 web summary for more details).

The commercial production and formulation system, along with efficacy and other data, will enable the company to register and sell a final commercial formulation of CLO-1.

Next steps

ICUS plans to complete pilot scale-up of the production and formulation system by October 2012 and then transfer to full scale commercial production so that the company will start commercial production in 2013 to meet the demand for the 2014 growing season.

The 3000 litre vessel is expected to be installed by the middle of 2013 in preparation for the commercial introduction of CLO-1. The 270 litre scale-up vessel will then be used as a seed fermenter for the 3000 litre production system.

In 2011, ICUS worked with Centre de recherche sur les grains French only in Quebec on a project submission for new trials with commercial growers in the province, to build market acceptance prior to commercial introduction of the registered product in 2014. In addition, ICUS continues to work with Dr. Allen Xue on efforts to the same end in Ontario.

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