Clonostachys & Botrytis
Clonostachys protects plants from grey mold infection
The cycle of grey mold in berry crops
Grey Mold is an extremely common disease that affects many crops around the world. You have probably seen it on your strawberries after a few too many days in the fridge. Caused by the fungus Botrytis, the infection process begins on dead leaves and flowers, eventually seeping into the berries themselves.
Like many fungi, Botrytis grows by producing branch-like strands called hyphae. The disease is transferred to new plants when spores from the “forest” of hyphae become airborne, landing on the flowers of nearby plants. The spores germinate inside the new flower, stimulated by the nutrient rich sugars and amino acids available on the flower surface. As the Botrytis grows, it produces toxins that destroy the cell membranes of the flower, and later on, the berries.
How does the BVT fungus Clonostachys control Botrytis in strawberries?
Clonostachys is a naturally occurring fungus that forms a mutually beneficial relationship with the plants it contacts. Once established inside a flower, Clonostachys helps to prevent the growth and development of Botrytis without harming the plant in any way.
Clonostachys protects plants from Botrytis infection in a number of ways:
- A healthy colonizer
When plant tissues first show signs of stress or injury from Botrytis, Clonostachys is naturally triggered to rapidly grow in the affected tissues, blocking further development of the harmful spores. Similarly, when the green plant tissues begin to age, Clonostachys is triggered to occupy the tissue before a harmful pathogen can take root in the dying area.
- Rapid growth
As Clonostachys grows, its tiny colonies send out signals in the plant both locally and systemically. These signals produce enhanced levels of natural resistance to disease organisms. As induced resistance increases, attempts by Botrytis spores to infect the plant increasingly fail.
- Helps with plant vigour
Clonostachys colonies actually assist in maintaining plant vigour, almost like an anti-aging treatment for plants! This is commonly observed as a delay in the yellowing of green types of plant tissues. Not only does this delay the optimal period for Botrytis infection, but given that growing tissues are more nutrient-dense, the presence of Clonostachys might even increase nutrient uptake by the roots.
The natural cycle of Clonostachys in plant tissues, from germination, to colonization and rapid growth occurs on a microscopic scale. There are no visible signs that anything has occurred. Its ability to preclude and block further development of Botrytis is achieved within hours.
How is Clonostachys distributed by BVT?
Huge numbers of Clonostachys spores are produced in the BVT laboratory, where they are placed in a proprietary powder formation called Vectorite™ and packaged into a sealed tray called a Vectorpak™, which are then placed in an inoculum dispenser system within a commercial bee hive.
As the bees walk through the tray on their way out of the hive, the Vectorite adheres to their legs. When the bees exit and take flight, they deliver the Clonostachys spores directly to a crop’s flowers as they forage for nectar and pollen.
Within a few hours, the Clonostachys spores germinate and form tiny colonies of fungal hyphae between the superficial plant cells. Any spores that fall onto the foliage also germinate and establish colonies inside the leaves. Clonostachys instantly begins working in the plant’s favor, increasing crop yield and mitigating the spread of Botrytis.
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