Fungus food saver

Published: Thursday 30 April 1998

Scientists at the Indian Agricultural Research Institute (IARI), New Delhi, have discovered a fungus that can save tomato plants from the attacks of nematode worm. The fungus Paecilomyces lilacinus can parasitise eggs of the root knot nematode ( Meloidogyne incognita ) that infects tomato plants. The team found that of the six isolates of P lilacinus collected from various parts of India were extremely effective in warding off the worm. The isolate inhibited hatching of the nematode eggs by 75 per cent in the laboratory and 66 per cent in soil. A report prepared by Scientist M R Khan shows that the fungal retains its virulence even after being cultured 20 times, and grows well on neem ( Azadirachta indica ) cake. Findings of the IARI researchers show that the optimum dose of inoculation is eight grams of fungus-infested rice per kilogramme soil. The fungus provides carry-over protection of tomato crop in the second season.

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