Biological control of Fusarium crown and root rot of wheat by Streptomyces isolates – It’s complicated

Mark Winter, Peter L. Samuels, Lindsey K. Otto-Hanson, Ruth Dill-Macky, Linda L. Kinkel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


The predominant causal agents of Fusarium crown and root rot (FCR) of wheat, along with Fusarium pseudograminearum, are F. graminearum and F. culmorum. Members of the Gram-positive bacterial genus Streptomyces have been shown to inhibit isolates of the genus Fusarium, and Fusarium spp. isolates are also able to inhibit Streptomyces isolates in vitro. However, little is known about these complex antagonistic interactions and the potential for inhibitory Streptomyces to reduce FCR of wheat. The aim of this study was to analyze whether inhibitory Streptomyces isolates affect FCR of wheat and reduce root and stem base colonization by Fusarium culmorum. We enriched sterilized potting soil with spore suspensions of two Streptomyces isolates, inoculated the soil with F. culmorum-colonized wheat straw, and planted pre-germinated wheat seedlings. At 4 weeks, F. culmorum-inoculated plants had significant FCR symptoms on roots and showed reduced fresh weight of roots and above-ground plant biomass compared with the non-inoculated controls. Enrichment of soil with an inhibitory Streptomyces isolate reduced F. culmorum DNA in roots and stem bases by 75% compared with inoculation with F. culmorum alone. Interestingly, co-inoculation of F. culmorum with a non-inhibitory Streptomyces isolate led to the highest levels F. culmorum DNA in stem base tissue and greatest Streptomyces densities (CFU per g of soil) in the rhizosphere. In vitro assays revealed that F. culmorum showed a strong inhibitory activity against the pathogen-inhibitory Streptomyces isolate but not against the non-inhibitory isolate. In vitro tests with a larger set of 17 Streptomyces and five Fusarium spp. isolates revealed that there was little variation among Fusarium spp. isolates in capacities to inhibit the collection of Streptomyces isolates. In contrast, the sensitivity to inhibition by pathogenic Fusarium spp. isolates varied widely among Streptomyces isolates. The results of this study suggest the potential of Streptomyces isolates for biocontrol of FCR of wheat, while highlighting the specificity of Streptomyces_Fusarium interactions. Broader understanding of the variation in susceptibility within Fusarium spp. populations to Streptomyces inhibition and vice versa are needed to advance the potential for successful biological control.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)52-60
Number of pages9
JournalPhytobiomes Journal
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2019

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Funding: Funding was provided by a postdoctoral fellowship for M. Winter from the German Research Foundation (Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft).

Publisher Copyright:
© 2019 The American Phytopathological Society.


  • Antagonism
  • Fusarium culmorum
  • Fusarium foot and root rot
  • Fusarium graminearum

Fingerprint Dive into the research topics of 'Biological control of Fusarium crown and root rot of wheat by Streptomyces isolates – It’s complicated'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this