The aim of this study was to evaluate the interactions between wheat plant (spikelets and straws), a strain of mycotoxigenic pathogen Fusarium graminearum and commercial biocontrol agents (BCAs). The ability of BCAs to colonize plant tissue and inhibit the pathogen or its toxin production was observed throughout two phases of the life cycle of pathogens in natural conditions (colonization and survival). All evaluated BCAs showed effective reduction capacities of pathogenic traits. During establishment and the expansion stage, BCAs provoked an external growth reduction of F. graminearum (77-93% over the whole kinetic studied) and mycotoxin production (98-100% over the whole kinetic studied). Internal growth of pathogen was assessed with digital droplet polymerase chain reaction (ddPCR) and showed a very strong reduction in the colonization of the internal tissues of the spikelet due to the presence of BCAs (98% on average). During the survival stage, BCAs prevented the formation of conservation perithecia of the pathogen on wheat straw (between 88 and 98% of perithecia number reduction) and showed contrasting actions on the ascospores they contain, or perithecia production (-95% on average) during survival form. The mechanisms involved in these different interactions between F. graminearum and BCAs on plant matrices at different stages of the pathogen's life cycle were based on a reduction of toxins, nutritional and/or spatial competition, or production of anti-microbial compounds.
Keywords: DON; biological control; ddPCR; microorganism interactions.