Fusarium head blight (FHB) is a devastating disease that causes extensive yield and quality losses to wheat and other small cereal grains worldwide. Species within the Fusarium graminearum complex are the main pathogens associated with the disease, F. graminearum sensu stricto being the main pathogen in Argentina. Biocontrol can be used as part of an integrated pest management strategy. Phytohormones play a key role in the plant defense system and their production can be induced by antagonistic microorganisms. The aims of this study were to evaluate the effect of the inoculation of Bacillus velezensis RC 218, F. graminearum and their co-inoculation on the production of salicylic acid (SA) and jasmonic acid (JA) in wheat spikes at different periods of time under greenhouse conditions, and to evaluate the effect of B. velezensis RC 218 and Streptomyces albidoflavus RC 87B on FHB disease incidence, severity and deoxynivalenol accumulation on Triticum turgidum L. var. durum under field conditions. Under greenhouse conditions the production of JA was induced after F. graminearum inoculation at 48 and 72 h, but JA levels were reduced in the co-inoculated treatments. No differences in JA or SA levels were observed between the B. velezensis treatment and the water control. In the spikes inoculated with F. graminearum, SA production was induced early (12 h), as it was shown for initial FHB basal resistance, while JA was induced at a later stage (48 h), revealing different defense strategies at different stages of infection by the hemibiotrophic pathogen F. graminearum. Both B. velezensis RC 218 and S. albidoflavus RC 87B effectively reduced FHB incidence (up to 30%), severity (up to 25%) and deoxynivalenol accumulation (up to 51%) on durum wheat under field conditions.
Keywords: biocontrol; durum wheat; phytohormones; wheat defense modulation.