The use of biological control agents as opposed to synthetic agrochemicals to control plant pathogens has gained momentum, considering their numerous advantages. The aim of this study is to investigate the biocontrol potential of plant bacterial isolates against Fusarium oxysporum, Fusarium proliferatum, Fusarium culmorum, and Fusarium verticillioides. Isolation, identification, characterization, and in vitro biocontrol antagonistic assays of these isolates against Fusarium species were carried out following standard protocols. The bacterial endophytes were isolated from Glycine max. L leaves (B1), Brassica napus. L seeds (B2), Vigna unguiculata seeds (B3), and Glycine max. L seeds (B4). The bacterial isolates were identified using 16S rRNA PCR sequencing. A phylogenetic analysis shows that the bacterial isolates are closely related to Bacillus subtilis (B1) and Bacillus tequilensis (B2-B4), with an identity score above 98%. All the bacterial isolates produced a significant amount (p < 0.05) of indole acetic acid (IAA), siderophores, and protease activity. In vitro antagonistic assays of these isolates show a significant (p < 0.05) growth inhibition of the fungal mycelia in the following order: F. proliferatum > F. culmorum > F. verticillioides > F. oxysporum, compared to the control. The results suggest that these bacterial isolates are good biocontrol candidates against the selected Fusarium species.
Keywords: antifungal; bacterial endophytes; biocontrol; phylogenetics; polymerase chain reaction.