Sustainable Agricultural Systems Laboratory

Beltsville, MD, United States

Sustainable Agricultural Systems Laboratory

Beltsville, MD, United States
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Kepler R.M.,Sustainable Agricultural Systems Laboratory | Maul J.E.,Sustainable Agricultural Systems Laboratory | Rehner S.A.,U.S. Department of Agriculture
Current Opinion in Microbiology | Year: 2017

Feeding an increasing global population requires continued improvements in agricultural efficiency and productivity. Meeting estimated future production levels requires the adoption of practices that increase output without environmental degradation associated with external inputs to supplement nutrition or control pests. Enriching the community of microbes associated with plants in agricultural systems for those providing ecosystem services such as pest control is one possible component towards achieving sustainable productivity increases. In this review we explore the current state of knowledge for Hypocreales fungi used in biological control. Advances in understanding the field ecology, diversity and genetic determinants of host range and virulence of hypocrealean fungi provide the means to improve their efficacy. © 2017

Kong H.S.,U.S. Food and Drug Administration | Roberts D.P.,Sustainable Agricultural Systems Laboratory | Roberts D.P.,Henry llace Beltsville Agricultural Research Center | Patterson C.D.,Sustainable Agricultural Systems Laboratory | And 8 more authors.
Phytopathology | Year: 2012

Kong, H. S., Roberts, D. P., Patterson, C. D., Kuehne, S. A., Heeb, S., Lakshman, D. K., and Lydon, J. 2012. Effect of overexpressing rsmA from Pseudomonas aeruginosa on virulence of select phytotoxin-producing strains of P. syringae. Phytopathology 102:575-587. The GacS/GacA two-component system functions mechanistically in conjunction with global post-transcriptional regulators of the RsmA family to allow pseudomonads and other bacteria to adapt to changing environmental stimuli. Analysis of this Gac/Rsm signal transduction pathway in phytotoxin-producing pathovars of Pseudmonas syringae is incomplete, particularly with regard to rsmA. Our approach in studying it was to overexpress rsmA in P. syringae strains through introduction of pSK61, a plasmid constitutively expressing this gene. Disease and colonization of plant leaf tissue were consistently diminished in all P. syringae strains tested (pv. phaseolicola NPS3121, pv. syringae B728a, and BR2R) when harboring pSK61 relative to these isolates harboring the empty vector pME6031. Phaseolotoxin, syringomycin, and tabtoxin were not produced in any of these strains when transformed with pSK61. Production of protease and pyoverdin as well as swarming were also diminished in all of these strains when harboring pSK61. In contrast, alginate production, biofilm formation, and the hypersensitive response were diminished in some but not all of these isolates under the same growth conditions. These results indicate that rsmA is consistently important in the overarching phenotypes disease and endophtyic colonization but that its role varies with pathovar in certain underpinning phenotypes in the phytotoxin-producing strains of P. syringae. © 2012 The American Phytopathological Society.

Belle A.J.,University of Maryland University College | Lansing S.,University of Maryland University College | Mulbry W.,Sustainable Agricultural Systems Laboratory | Weil R.R.,University of Maryland University College
Biomass and Bioenergy | Year: 2015

Forage radish, a winter cover crop, was investigated as a co-substrate to increase biogas production from dairy manure-based anaerobic digestion. Batch digesters (300cm3) were operated under mesophilic conditions during two experiments (BMP1; BMP2). In BMP1, the effect of co-digesting radish and manure on CH4 and H2S production was determined by increasing the mass fraction of fresh above-ground radish in the manure-based co-digestion mixture from 0 to 100%. Results showed that forage radish had 1.5-fold higher CH4 potential than dairy manure on a volatile solids basis. While no synergistic effect on CH4 production resulted from co-digestion, increasing the radish fraction in the co-digestion mixture significantly increased CH4 production. Initial H2S production increased as the radish fraction increased, but the sulfur-containing compounds were rapidly utilized, resulting in all treatments having similar H2S concentrations (0.10-0.14%) and higher CH4 content (48-70%) in the biogas over time. The 100% radish digester had the highest specific CH4 yield (372 ± 12 L kg-1VS). The co-digestion mixture containing 40% radish had a lower specific CH4 yield (345 ± 2 L kg-1VS) but also showed significantly less H2S production at start-up and high quality biogas (58% CH4). Results from BMP2 showed that the radish harvest date (October versus December) did not significantly influence radish C:N mass ratios or CH4 production during co-digestion with dairy manure. These results suggest that dairy farmers could utilize forage radish, a readily available substrate that does not compete with food supply, to increase CH4 production of manure digesters in the fall/winter. © 2015 Elsevier Ltd.

Williams M.M.,Global Change and Photosynthesis Research | Bradley C.A.,Urbana University | Bradley C.A.,University of Kentucky | Duke S.O.,A.P.S. University | And 2 more authors.
HortScience | Year: 2015

Recently, claims have been made that the use of glyphosate and transgenic crop traits increases plant susceptibility to pathogens. Transgenic traits used widely for years in dent corn are now available in commercial sweet corn cultivars, specifically, the combination of glyphosate resistance (GR) and Lepidoptera control (Bt). The objective was to assess the interactions of the GR+Bt trait, glyphosate, and Goss’s wilt on sweet corn. Nine treatments were tested under weed-free conditions at two sites in 2013 and 2014. Treatments included two isogenic cultivars differing only in the presence or absence of GR+Bt, with and without postemergence application of glyphosate, and inoculation with the causal agent of Goss’s wilt (Clavibacter michiganensis ssp. nebraskensis) before glyphosate application, after glyphosate application, or no inoculation. Results failed to show glyphosate or the GR+Bt trait influenced sweet corn susceptibility to Goss’s wilt. The only factor affecting Goss’s wilt incidence was whether plants were inoculated with C. michiganensis ssp. nebraskensis. In the absence of glyphosate application, yet under weed-free conditions, several yield traits were higher in sweet corn with the GR+Bt trait. Results showed that the GR transgene confers the same level of tolerance to glyphosate in sweet corn as observed previously in dent corn. If true, recent claims about glyphosate and transgenic traits increasing plant disease would be of major concern in sweet corn; however, no relationships were found between the GR+Bt trait and/or glyphosate to Goss’s wilt incidence in sweet corn. © 2015, American Society for Horticultural Science. All rights reserved.

Roberts D.P.,Sustainable Agricultural Systems Laboratory | Lakshman D.K.,Nursery Plants Research Unit | McKenna L.F.,Sustainable Agricultural Systems Laboratory | Emche S.E.,Sustainable Agricultural Systems Laboratory | And 2 more authors.
Plant Disease | Year: 2016

Environmentally friendly control measures for soilborne plant pathogens are needed that are effective in different soils when applied alone or as components of an integrated disease control strategy. An ethanol extract of Serratia marcescens N4-5, when applied as a cucumber seed treatment, effectively suppressed damping-off caused by Pythium ultimum in potting mix and in a sandy loam soil. Plant stand associated with this treatment was similar to that of seed treated with the chemical pesticide Thiram in the sandy loam soil. The N4-5 ethanol extract did not consistently provide significant disease control in a loam soil. The N4-5 ethanol extract was compatible with two Trichoderma isolates, not affecting in vitro or in situ colonization of cucumber by these biological control fungi. Control of damping-off of cucumber was never diminished when this ethanol extract was applied as a seed treatment in combination with in-furrow application of the Trichoderma isolates, and disease control was improved in certain instances with these combinations in the loam soil. Data presented here indicate that the N4-5 ethanol extract is compatible with certain beneficial fungi, suggesting that this extract can be used as a component of integrated disease control strategies featuring biological control fungi. © 2016 The American Phytopathological Society.

Ryan M.R.,Pennsylvania State University | Smith R.G.,Pennsylvania State University | Mirsky S.B.,Sustainable Agricultural Systems Laboratory | Mortensen D.A.,Pennsylvania State University | Seidel R.,Rodale Institute
Weed Science | Year: 2010

Community assembly theory provides a useful framework to assess the response of weed communities to agricultural management systems and to improve the predictive power of weed science. Under this framework, weed community assembly is constrained by abiotic and biotic "filters" that act on species traits to determine community composition. We used an assembly approach to investigate the response of weed seed banks to 25 yr of management-related filtering in three different row-crop management systems in southeastern Pennsylvania: organic manure-based, organic legume-based, and conventional. Weed seed banks were sampled in April of 2005 and 2006 and quantified by direct germination in a greenhouse. We also assessed the filtering effects of weed management practices and relationships between assembled seed bank and emergent weed communities by allowing or excluding weed control practices within each management system and measuring emergent weed community response. Germinable weed seed bank densities and species richness in the final year of the study were over 40 and 15 higher, respectively, in the organic systems relative to the conventional system. Seed bank community structure in the organic systems was different from the conventional system, and the relationships between assembled seed banks and the emergent flora varied. Primary tillage, weed control, timing of planting, and fertility management appeared to be the main filters that differentiated weed seed banks in the three systems. Weed life history, emergence periodicity, seed size, and responsiveness to soil fertility and hydrology appeared to be the most important functional traits determining how weed species responded to management-related filters. Our results suggest that management systems can exert strong filtering effects that can persist over relatively long (greater than one growing season) time scales. Legacy effects of community-level filtering might be more important than previously assumed, and should be incorporated into predictive models of weed community assembly. © 2010 Weed Science Society of America.

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