Blackwell Publishing Journal Backfiles 1879-2005
Agriculture, Forestry, Horticulture, Fishery, Domestic Science, Nutrition
Biological control of weeds by natural antagonists is of increasing interest. To reduce densities of the weed Cirsium arvense (creeping thistle) in a successional fallow, we applied spores of two pathogens, the biotrophic rust Puccinia punctiformis and the perthotrophic Phoma destructiva, for three consecutive years individually at different dates and combined. The proportion of systemically Puccinia punctiformis-infected C. arvense was not influenced by the treatments, but local rust infection was a good predictor of systemic infection in the following season. Artificial inoculations with P. destructiva increased the incidence of this pathogen in the third year as a result of synergistic effects, when co-inoculated with P. punctiformis. Inoculations with either pathogen had little effect on C. arvense shoot density, although there were transient reductions after combined inoculations with both fungi compared with the fungicide treatment. Cirsium arvense decreased from 60% to 5% cover within 3 years, while the cover of the co-occurring fallow vegetation increased. Under field conditions, with an already high degree of natural P. punctiformis infection, the effects of inoculations of the single pathogens were minor, but reductions in shoot density after combined inoculations indicate that this inoculation may have the potential to cause a decline of this weed.
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