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Research Question 1: Does the introduction of Trichoderma endophytes into plant roots improve host plant resilience so as to protect against Armillaria root rot?
Trichoderma endophytes were isolated from the roots of healthy plants located in beds where other plants had succumbed to Armillaria.
We hypothesise that the roots of plants that are able to remain healthy when growing in soils where Armillaria is known to be present are colonised with beneficial fungi, including species of Trichoderma, which offer protection to their host plants against invading Armillaria.
To identify isolates of Trichoderma most beneficial to host plants, all isolates collected by the RHS are currently being screened in strawberries to look for increased plant vigour. Selected isolates will be challenged in plants with Armillaria to test whether the disease severity of Armillaria is reduced in the presence of the Trichoderma.
The interaction between Armillaria and Trichoderma isolates will also be assessed. Tests in the lab will look at how Armillaria and Trichoderma interact together and whether antibiotics are produced by Trichoderma spp. which could actively suppress Armillaria invasion.
Research Question 2: What genes are involved in the pathogenicity of Armillaria?
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