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Plant pathogens as biocontrol agents of Cirsium arvense – an overestimated approach?

Author(s): Esther Müller | Wolfgang Nentwig

Journal: NeoBiota
ISSN 1619-0033

Volume: 11;
Start page: 1;
Date: 2011;
Original page

Keywords: Cirsium arvense | bioherbicide | biological control | fungi | bacteria

Cirsium arvense is one of the worst weeds in agriculture. As herbicides are not very effective and not accepted by organic farming and special habitats, possible biocontrol agents have been investigated since many decades. In particular plant pathogens of C. arvense have received considerable interest and have been promoted as “mycoherbicides” or “bioherbicides”. A total of 10 fungi and one bacterium have been proposed and tested as biocontrol agents against C. arvense. A variety of experiments analysed the noxious influence of spores or other parts of living fungi or bacteria on plants while others used fungal or bacterial products, usually toxins. Also combinations of spores with herbicides and combinations of several pathogens were tested. All approaches turned out to be inappropriate with regard to target plant specificity, effectiveness and application possibilities. As yet, none of the tested species or substances has achieved marketability, despite two patents on the use of Septoria cirsii and Phomopsis cirsii. We conclude that the potential of pathogens for biocontrol of C. arvense has largely been overestimated.
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