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Sustainable Disease and Pest Tactics for Mushrooms

This Specialty Crop Research Initiative (SCRI) project has two major goals to improve the long-term sustainability of the U.S. mushroom industry.

This project has two major goals to improve the long-term sustainability of the U.S. mushroom industry:

  1. Transition the management of fungal pathogens and flies beyond short-term reliance on pesticides by enhancing epidemiological and bio-rational tactics.
  2. Synergize information developed in this project with existing knowledge to provide the extension tools needed to encourage changes in grower practices.

For more information on this SCRI project, please contact Dr. David Beyer

Project Objectives

Plant Pathology and Environmental Microbiology

The primary outcomes are the identification of substrate characteristics that influence the incidence and severity of a major disease, Trichoderma Green Mold and the identification of alternative biopesticides that can be developed to help control fungal pathogens and insects.  Entomopathogenic fungi offer great biological control solutions for effective control of adult flies.

  • Objective 1 – Investigate the role of anaerobic substrate and other Phase I, Phase II and Phase III substrate characteristics on Ta2 disease development.  
  • Objective 2 – To evaluate commercially available essential oils and biorationals in vitro and in vivo against indigenous fungal isolates collected at farms around the country. 
  • Objective 3 – Development of entomopathogen strain(s) and formulations for use as premise spray adulticides using production technology routinely used by mushroom spawn producers.  
  • Objective 4 – Identify semiochemical cues attractive to Lycoriella mali and Megaselia halterata that can be used to monitor fly populations to assess and reduce their ability to drive pathogen epidemics.  
  • Objective 5 – Identify volatile compounds produced from Phase II substrate, mushroom mycelium and various fungal pathogens and their correlation with the two different mushroom flies.

Entomology

Flies are known vectors of several fungal diseases and controlling them will certainly help control the diseases. We have included another objective that will look at what attracts the different flies to certain stages of the crop or the growing pathogen colonies. Our long-term goal is to transition the management of fungal pathogens, and both sciarid and phorid flies that vector these pathogens, beyond short-term reliance on pesticides that are rapidly and repeatedly lost due to resistance and regulatory actions through development of sustainable, biorational tactics.

Food Science

We will attempt to identify volatile compounds produced from Phase II substrate, mushroom mycelium and various fungal pathogens and their correlation with the two different mushroom flies.

Project Directors

  • David Beyer, Department of Plant Pathology
    (PD) Lead on work involving fungal pathogens related to the production of Agaricus under specific growth conditions.  His expertise will be used in preparing substrates and growing conditions for disease development and assessment of potential bio-pesticides. His 90% extension appointment will be used to maintain technology transfer between scientist and the growing community and to interact with the advisory panel as the project progresses. Email: dmb8@psu.edu
  • Thomas Baker, Center for Chemical Ecology
    The CCE (Center for Chemical Ecology) brings together researchers in complementary disciplines (biology, crop and soil sciences, entomology, horticulture, forestry, plant pathology, biochemistry and molecular biology) to explore the role chemistry plays in predator–prey, parasite–host, herbivore–plant, virus–vector, and intraspecific interactions.  Dr. Baker will coordinate the behavioral and electrophysiological bioassays with dipterans and those fungi involved with (i) mushroom production and (ii) entomopathogens. Email: tcb10@psu.edu
  • Ryan Elias, Department of Food Science
    Dr. Elias, an agricultural and food chemist will manage all aspects of organic acid analysis which will be conducted in his laboratory.  He will be responsible for sample preparation, method development, measurement of organic acid samples and data analysis. Email: rje12@psu.edu
  • Nina Jenkins, Department of Entomology
    Dr. Jenkins will coordinate optimization of entomopathogen production for sciarid and phorid control, formulation and persistence studies and bioassays for virulence.  She will supervise the technician responsible for setting up and maintaining colonies of sciarid and phorid flies. Email:nej2@psu.edu
  • John Pecchia, Department of Plant Pathology
    Project Coordinator. Responsible for the day-to-day management of the Mushroom Research Center, management of participant materials and will assist in communication among all investigators and industry representatives. Email:jap281@psu.edu

This project was funded by the USDA- It is a multi-disciplinary, interregional effort that combines research and outreach to improve the sustainability of mushroom growers in the United States.