Fungus found to be effective in cotton protection

A fungus has been found to be effective in the protection of cotton crops in Mexico. | Courtesy of the Center of Genomic Biotechnology

Scientists at the Center of Genomic Biotechnology from the National Polytechnic Institute of Mexico have identified fungi that are effective against common pathogens in cotton plants, they announced Wednesday.

Texas rot, caused by Phymatotrichum omnivora is endemic to Northern Mexico and Southern United States and affects up to 200 plant species. It specifically attacks the plant's root system which prevents nutrients from moving within the plant.

Trichoderma koningiopsis has been shown to kill and neutralize parasites and other pathogens. An isolated area treated with T. koningiopsis showed resistance to this and other pathogens.

"It prevents its development, inoculating them on the stem of the cotton plants in a greenhouse," biotechnology specialist José Luis Hernández Mendoza said. "The result shows that this fungus increases biomass of the plant." 

An added benefit is that the fungus is able to promote the plant's growth when acetic acid it produces is mixed with the seeds. Mendoza said cotton producers would need to be trained in the proper handling of the fungus and on how to use it in the treatment and production of cotton plants.