Weed Research (2020) 60, 50-59

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A.F. Currie, A.C. Gange, N. Ab Razak, C.A. Ellison, N. Maczey and S.V. Wood (2020)
Endophytic fungi in the invasive weed Impatiens glandulifera: a barrier to classical biological control?
Weed Research 60 (1), 50-59
Abstract: The rust fungus, Puccinia komarovii var. glanduliferae, has been introduced into the UK for biological control of the invasive weed, Impatiens glandulifera (Himalayan balsam). However, establishment of the pathogen has differed across the country, which may be partly explained by variation in plant genotype. The aim of this study was to examine whether there is a further layer of phenotypic resistance, provided by indigenous foliar endophytic fungi. Culturable endophytes were isolated from a number of different balsam populations, and the commonest species were inoculated into 'clean' balsam plants, to test their interactions with the rust. We found that endophyte communities within balsam are low in diversity and become more dissimilar with increasing distance between populations. Three endophytes (Colletotrichum acutatum, Alternaria alternata and Cladosporium oxysporum) were common and appeared to be antagonistic to the rust, reducing pustule number and mitigating the effect of the pathogen on plant biomass. I. glandulifera thus partially conforms to the endophyte-enemy release hypothesis, in that as an introduced species, it has an impoverished endophyte complement, acquired from the local environment. However, these endophytes represent a potential barrier to effective biological control and future weed control strategies need to find strains of rust that can overcome plant genetic resistance and the overlaying phenotypic resistance, conferred by endophytes. Future classical biological control programmes of weeds must therefore take into account the fungal bodyguards that invasive species may acquire in their introduced ranges.
(The abstract is excluded from the Creative Commons licence and has been copied with permission by the publisher.)
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Database assignments for author(s): Alan C. Gange, Carol A. Ellison

Research topic(s) for pests/diseases/weeds:
biocontrol - natural enemies
Research topic(s) for beneficials or antagonists:
general biology - morphology - evolution
resistance/tolerance/defence of host

Pest and/or beneficial records:

Beneficial Pest/Disease/Weed Crop/Product Country Quarant.
Impatiens glandulifera (weed) United Kingdom
Puccinia komarovii (weed pathogen) Impatiens glandulifera (weed) United Kingdom