Biological Methods to Control Parasitic Weed Phelipanche ramosa L. Pomel in the Field Tomato Crop
Phelipanche ramosa L. Pomel is a root holoparasitic weed plant of many cultivations, particularly of tomato (Lycopersicum esculentum L.) crop. In Italy, Phelipanche problem is increasing, both in density and in acreage. The biological control of this parasitic weed involves the use of living organisms as numerous fungi and bacteria that can infect the parasitic weed, while it may improve the crop growth. This paper deals with the biocontrol with microorganism, including Arbuscular mycorrhizal (AM) fungi and fungal pathogens as Fusarium oxisporum spp. Colonization of crop roots by AM fungi can provide protection of crops against parasitic weeds because of a reduction in their seed germination and attachment, while F. oxisporum, isolated from diseased broomrape tubercles, proved to be highly virulent on P. ramosa. The experimental trial was carried out in open field at Foggia province (Apulia Region, Southern Italy), during the spring-summer season 2016, in order to evaluate the effect of four biological treatments: AM fungi and Fusarium oxisporum applied in the soil alone or combined together, and Rizosum Max® product, compared with the untreated control, to reduce the P. ramosa infestation in processing tomato crop. The principal results to be drawn from this study under field condition, in contrast of those reported previously under laboratory and greenhouse conditions, show that both AM fungi and F. oxisporum do not provide the reduction of the number of emerged shoots of P. ramosa. This can arise probably from the low efficacy seedling of the agent pathogens for the control of this parasite in the field. On the contrary, the Rizosum Max® product, containing AM fungi and some rizophere bacteria combined with several minerals and organic substances, appears to be most effective for the reduction of P. ramosa infestation.
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