Evaluation of bacterial strains for control of dollar spot on creeping bentgrass and brown patch on tall fescue

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Virginia Tech

Sclerotinia homoeocarpa F.T. Bennett, causal agent of dollar spot on creeping bentgrass (Agrostis palustris Huds.); and Rhizoctonia solani Kihn, causal agent of brown patch on tall fescue (Festuca arundinacea Schreb.), are important pathogens of turfgrass. This research evaluated the ability of twenty bacterial strains of the genus Pseudomonas as potential biological agents for the control of these diseases. Year 1 dollar spot field trials resulted in the identification of five strains performing statistically as well as the recommended fungicide, chlorothalonil. Year 2 trials, using the top strains from Year 1, employed different application schedules and inclusion of a commercial spray adjuvant, Agri-Dex™, Results from Year 2 dollar spot trials indicated that eight strains performed statistically better than the non-treated control. Results from Year 1 and Year 2 of brown patch field trials provided three strains that performed statistically better than the nontreated control during Year 1, but only one strain during Year 2. Laboratory tests performed with all strains and both pathogens showed that demonstration of agar-based inhibition is more difficult to obtain with R. solani. Six strains evaluated using AgriDex™ and S. homoeocarpa in laboratory and greenhouse tests, determined that application with Agri-Dex™ can be more effective than with bacteria alone. Supporting greenhouse tests using the top strains from the S. homoeocarpa field trials to evaluate application timing in controlling dollar spot, indicated less disease with earlier and more frequent applications. With further research, several strains have the potential for disease control on turf, particularly dollar spot, and may reduce the reliance on chemical fungicides.