Biocontrol potential of indigenous antagonist fungal species for the coffee leaf rust Hemileia vastatrix in Ethiopia

Coffee Leaf Rust (CLR), caused by Hemileia vastatrix is the worst disease of coffee plantations worldwide. The successful strategy of escaping the disease by highland planting used became uneffective, possibly owing to climate change. Development of varieties with durable resistance to CLR is lengthy and rendered difficult because of the pathogen variability. Chemical control is broadly used but is too costly or inadequate for the organic or low pesticide residue markets. Its intensive use also provokes worries with environmental impact. Therefore, biological control of CLR is becoming an attractive alternative worth pursuing. A survey performed at major coffee-growing areas of Ethiopia aimed at collecting potential antagonists to the CLR fungus. This study yielded many mycological novelties as well as new records of known fungal species that were previously unknown to be potential antagonists for H. vastatrix. Based on the result the highest germination inhibition and efficacy percent (reducing the disease severity index) on coffee leaf discs were recorded with mycoparasitic antagonistic fugal isolates of Digitopodium sp. (ET568), Digitopodium sp. (ET567), Pleurodesmospora sp. (ET544), Lecanicillium sp. (ET651), Lecanicillium sp. (ET669), Phoma sp. (ET622), Lecanicillium sp. (ET600), Lecanicillium sp. (ET665), Fusarium sp. (ET642), Fusarium sp. (ET645), Cladosporium sp. (ET566), Cladosporium sp. (ET564), Lecanicillium sp. (ET627) Simplicillium sp. (ET553) and Alternaria sp. (ET614). With this study the best result being obtained with the inoculation of those isolates applied simultaneously, 24hs and 72 hs before H. vastatrix inoculation. This isolates deserves being further evaluated for use as biological control of H. vastatrix in greenhouse and field condition.

Author(s): Kifle Belachew, Girma Adugna and Weyesa Garedew

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