• Kate Ayers

Fungal applications could help protect soybeans from SCN

Farmers may soon have a more effective method to fight soybean cyst nematode (SCN) infections in their fields.

SCN costs the American ag industry US$1 billion (C$1.41 billion) in soybean yield losses each year, an April University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign release said. Fortunately, scientists have found a type of beneficial fungi that can reduce the nematode’s reproductive success by at least 50 per cent.

In previous studies, researchers examined the efficacy of arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi to fight plant parasitic fungi. But results varied from study to study, limiting farmers’ confidence in this control method, the release said.

In this recent project, researchers discovered that the fungus Funneliformis mosseae protected plants best. Soybeans inoculated with this fungus had an average of 10 cysts per plant, the release said. Uninoculated plants bore at least 75 cysts.

If we can find out what function or compound from the fungi is suppressing egg hatching, that could potentially be a useful nematicide,” Michelle Pawlowski, a graduate student at the university, said in the release.

The study is published in the March edition of the journal Plant Disease.

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