New biopesticide cures fungus in tomato, eggplant, hot pepper

WiltCure, a biopesticide, can effectively control Fusarium wilt in tomato, eggplant, and hot pepper, resulting in more vigorous growth and higher yield.

This was the key finding of the project, Callus and microbe co- culture as a novel source of biopesticides against major agricultural pests and diseases, which was funded by the Department of Science and Technology and monitored by the Philippine Council for Agriculture, Aquatic and Natural Resources Research and Development of the DOST.

Fusarium wilt is a major disease in many solanaceous crops. It is caused by Fusarium oxysporum, a soil-borne pathogen. It is conventionally controlled by using chemical pesticides.
However, prolonged use of synthetic chemicals reportedly degrades natural soil nutrients and contaminates the environment.

Biopesticides are the best alternative to reduce use of synthetic chemicals. They are derived from natural sources such as plants, fungi, bacteria, and other non man-made synthesis. They are easy to use and are environment-friendly.

Project leader Eufrocinio Marfori said WiltCure is a biopesticide formulated after a series of laboratory and pot and field experiments carried out at the National Institute of Molecular Biology and Biotechnology of the University of the Philippines Los Baños.

In a report submitted to DOST- PCAARRD, Marfori said the product was developed after a co- culture consisting of potato callus and microbe showed the highest inhibitory activity against the pathogen. This co-culture was formulated into a biopesticide as a dry powder and was named WiltCure. Toxicity tests showed it is non-toxic to mammals and to both terrestrial and aquatic invertebrates.

The project’s researchers reported favorable results when WiltCure was evaluated under greenhouse and field conditions. Pot experiments showed that plants treated with WiltCure have better plant height and fruit yield.
Yellowing and wilting of foliage – symptoms of disease infection – were not observed compared with untreated plants and plants treated with synthetic pesticide.

Field experiments showed incidence of yellowing and wilting in untreated plants we re not observed in plants treated with WiltCure. Height and fruit yield were also higher in plants treated with WiltCure.

The researchers recommended further testing of the effectiveness of WiltCure not only in one location but also in other regions as well. They reported the possibility that WiltCure may also control Fusarium wilt in banana, ginger, and other crops.

This research project is one of the components of the program, Development and promotion of enhanced and new biofertilizers, biostimulants, and biopesti- cides for increased crop productivity of the UP Los Baños Biotech.

-Published in The Philippine STAR.  See article link via

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