The chestnut blight fungus, Cryphonectria parasitica, normally kills susceptible chestnut trees quickly. When the fungus is infected with any of several viruses, the fungus is weakened and the tree is able to fight infection by the fungus. This form of biological control can result in recovery of trees in forest and crop settings. While a number of viruses have been characterized, many viruses that appear to be having a measurable effect on the fungus in natural settings have not been examined. We will attempt to isolate and characterize some of these other viruses from recovering trees in natural forests. This will help us understand why certain trees in some forests are recovering and will help us predict how the release of specific virus-infected strains for biocontrol will affect populations. Bacteria can also serve as biocontrol agents. We have been examining the gram-negative bacterium Lysobacter enzymogenes in this context and will set up experiments to examine its effects in natural and experimental settings. Determining mechanism of action of these viral and bacterial pathogens of the fungus is critical to their future use. We will use a variety of non-molecular methods such as growth of the fungus in culture, sporulation, mating ability, pigment production, and virulence on trees and on excised chestnut stems. We will also use a variety of molecular methods to determine the effects of the viruses and bacterium on fungal gene expression.
|Effective start/end date||10/1/13 → 9/30/18|
- National Institute of Food and Agriculture (National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA))