Coating sorghum seeds with Fusarium oxysporum (Foxy 2) for control of the root parasitic weed Striga , appears to be an attractive option for minimizing the inoculum amount, establishing the biocontrol agent in the potential infection zone of the host plants, and offering a simple, easy and economical delivery system. Our investigations resulted in the selection of appropriate seed coating materials and a suitable type and form of fungal inoculum. The coating materials tested were arabic gum (AG10%, 20%, 40%), carboxymethylcellulose (CMC1%, 2%) and pectin (LS 440, LM-5 CS) 1%, while the fungal inoculum included microconidia and fresh and dried chlamydospores produced using different substrates. Foxy 2 survived the seed treatment processing and showed excellent viability on seeds for at least 8 months of storage after coating. In general, the performance of 40% arabic gum in combination with dried chlamydospores was the best among the other types of inoculum and coating material tested. Regardless of the type and form of inoculum and coating materials tested, Foxy 2 was able to colonize all roots, even root tips and hairs of the host (sorghum), thereby meeting important criteria of a promising candidate for controlling Striga when applied as a seed treatment. The efficacy of treated sorghum seed with Foxy 2 using different coating materials in reducing S. hermonthica infestation was evaluated in pot and root chamber trials. Foxy 2 markedly reduced Striga emergence and dry weight and increased the percentage of the diseased emerged Striga shoots. However, the efficacy of seed coating varied according to the type and form of fungal inoculum as well as coating material. Coating sorghum seed with dried chlamydospore inoculum homogenized into 20% arabic gum (as adhesive) showed the highest efficacy of 81 and 77% (i.e., percent reduction in healthy emerged Striga shoots compared to the control treatment) against Striga using either sterilized or non-sterilized soil, respectively. In root chamber bioassays, the application of Foxy 2 in combination with AG40% significantly caused disease in 77% of the germinated Striga seeds and in all tubercles after 25 days of sowing. These findings provide an optimized coating protocol as an attractive delivery system for bioherbicides for root parasitic weeds.
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