Fungal endophytes are fungi that grow in plants, with neutral or beneficial effects. Endophytes inhabit the tissues of most plants, including crop plants, and can promote crop growth and suppress insect pests and plant disease. In field experiments, we will assess the effects of soil and crop management practices on the occurence of a naturally-occurring, beneficial insect-pathogenic and endophytic fungus, Metarhizium robertsii. Factors that we will examine include frequency, timing, and intensity of tillage, cover crop species, and soil characteristics. In greenhouse experimetns, we will determine how competitive this soilborne fungus is with other soil organisms, and how water stress affects the ability of the fungus to form a beneficial endophytic relationship with corn plants. We will also look at the interaction of stress from feeding by an insect pest, the black cutworm, and moisture stress interact, and how this interaction affects the ability of corn to host and benefit from endophytic Metarhizium. Overall, we will gain a better understanding of the benefits and trade-offs of M. robertsii to crop plants, andhow to conserve this fungus in the soil to improve crop production.
|Effective start/end date||9/1/19 → 8/31/23|
- National Institute of Food and Agriculture: $344,105.00