Association of the Plant-beneficial Fungus Verticillium lecanii with Soybean Roots and Rhizosphere


  • S. L. F. Meyer
  • D. P. Roberts
  • W. P. Wergin


Colonization of soybean roots by the biocontrol fungus Verticilliura lecanii was studied in vitro and in situ. For in vitro experiments, V. lecanii was applied to soybean root tip explant cultures. Four weeks after inoculation, the fungus grew externally on at least half of the roots (all treatments combined), colonizing 31% to 71% of root length (treatment means). However, when a potato dextrose agar plug was available as a nutrient source for the fungus, root tips inoculated soon after transfer were not colonized by V. lecanii unless Heterodera glycines was present. Scanning electron microscopy of colonized roots from in vitro cultures revealed a close fungus-root association, including fungal penetration of root cells in some specimens. In the greenhouse, soybeans in sandy soil and in loamy sand soil were treated with V. lecanii applied in alginate prills. The fungus was detected at greater depths from the sandy soil than from the loamy sand soil treatment, but fungus population numbers were small and variable in both soils. Root box studies coupled with image processing analysis of the spatial distribution of V. lecanii in sandy soil supported these findings. Verticillium lecanii was detected randomly in the rhizosphere and soil of root boxes, and was rarely extensively distributed. These in vitro and in situ experiments indicate that V. lecanii can grow in association with soybean roots but is a poor colonizer of soybean rhizosphere in the soil environment. Key words: biological control, colonization, fungus, Glycine max, Heterodera glycines, nematode, rhizosphere, soybean, Verticillium lecanii.