Potato tuber moths, apple codling moths and tilletia fungi cause bunt diseases. To date, the problem in wheat has been controlled by chemical fungicide seed treatments. But that hasn't kept researchers from looking for alternative controls, just in case those chemicals lose effectiveness or are discontinued. What they have found is that a cocktail of compounds emitted by the beneficial fungus Muscodor albus may offer a biologically based way to fumigate certain crops and rid them of destructive pests.
In field trials conducted since 2007, ARS plant pathologist Blair Goates found that treating wheat seed or the soil with a formulation of Muscodor and ground rye completely prevented common bunt under moderate disease conditions.
Testing Muscodor against potato tuber moths, which damage potato leaves and tubers, and apple codling moths, which feed inside apples, researchers found that 85 to 91% of adult codling moths died when exposed to Muscodor fumes, while 62 to 71% of larvae died or failed to pupate. In apple storage tests, a 14-day exposure to Muscodor killed 100% of cocooned codling moth larvae, which are especially difficult to control.