ABSTRACT.
Trichoderma harzianum mutants enhance antagonism against phytopathogenic fungi, phosphorus assimilation and drought tolerance in Jalapeño pepper plants

Erika Cañada-Coyote1, Juan Gabriel Ramirez-Pimentel1, Cesar Leobardo Aguirre-Mancilla1, Juan Carlos Raya-Perez1, Gerardo Acosta-Garcia2, and Gabriel Iturriaga1*
 
The Trichoderma harzianum fungus is one of the most widely used biological control agents in agriculture. A new T. harzianum THITR01 strain was isolated and their spores were mutagenized with ethyl methane sulfonate obtaining 174 mutants. M7, M14, M21 and M24 are mutant strains that showed 97.4%-100% antagonist effect against Sclerotiumrolfsii, Rhizoctonia solani and Sclerotinia sclerotiorum compared to the wild strain. Under potato dextrose agar (PDA) medium with either NaCl, sorbitol or NaHCO3 there were non significant growth rate differences between the mutants and the wild strain. M14 and M21 mutant strains were inoculated on 'Jalapeño' pepper plants (Capsicumannuum L. var. annuum) with unavailable P promoted a significant increase in root fresh weight (54% and 40%, respectively) and dry weight (28% inboth strains), compared to plant inoculation with the wild strain. The M14 strain presented the highest P solubilization ability (13.4μgg-1) in the substrate and promoted a change on root architecture. There was a higher relative water content (82.9%) in drought stressed plants inoculated with the M24 mutant than in plants that were inoculated with the wild type strain (76.3%), and also higher levels of proline in chili pepper plants inoculated with the M24 mutant (939.5 μg g-1 dry weight) than in plants inoculated with the wild type strain (419.8 μg g-1 dry weight). Therefore, M14, M21 and M24 mutant strains could potentially be used as biocontrol agents and plant protectorfrom abiotic stress.
Keywords: Abiotic stress, fungi, mutants, phosphorus, Trichoderma.
1Tecnológico Nacional de México/I.T. Roque, km 8 Carretera Celaya-Juventino Rosas, Celaya 38110, Guanajuato, México.
*Corresponding author (gaiturriaga@itroque.edu.mx).
2Tecnológico Nacional de México/I.T. Celaya, Antonio García Cubas Pte. 600 esq. Av. Tecnológico, Celaya 38110, Guanajuato, México.