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Review article2023Peer reviewedOpen access

Understanding the mechanisms underlying biological control of Fusarium diseases in cereals

Petrucci, Arianna; Khairullina, Alfia; Sarrocco, Sabrina; Jensen, Dan Funck; Jensen, Birgit; Jorgensen, Hans Jorgen Lyngs; Collinge, David B.


Many Fusarium species cause serious diseases for cereal cultivation. These include Fusarium head blight and crown rot on wheat and bakanae disease on rice. These represent a major concern both in terms of food security and food safety. The latter is connected with the risk of mycotoxin contamination of grains. Biological control has proven its potential for controlling head blight and crown rot diseases of cereals caused by Fusarium species in a number of studies, and indeed several commercial products are under development. We review current knowledge of the mechanisms underlying biological control with a focus on fungal biocontrol agents, and also include challenges related to co-occurrence of Fusarium species. Several of the established biological control mechanisms (antibiosis, competition, hyperparasitism and induced resistance) can act simultaneously, thus resulting in disease control and, consequently, reduction of mycotoxin contamination. We also review the biological roles of some of the many mycotoxins produced by Fusarium species, and the mechanisms by which they are detoxified by cereal enzymes or by other fungi and how biological control agents (BCAs) can stimulate their degradation. Finally, the effect of biocontrol agents on the resident microbiota, as well as the effect of the resident microbiota on the performances of BCAs, are discussed. New perspectives on the use of biocontrol agents for the management of Fusarium diseases on cereals.


Fusarium; Cereals; Biocontrol; Mycotoxins; Microbiome; Clonostachys rosea; Trichoderma; Detoxification of mycotoxins

Published in

European Journal of Plant Pathology
2023, Volume: 167, number: 4, pages: 453-476
Publisher: SPRINGER

    Sustainable Development Goals

    SDG2 End hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition and promote sustainable agriculture
    SDG12 Ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns

    UKÄ Subject classification

    Agricultural Science

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