Trichoderma virens (Gliocladium virens) (Miller et al.) von Arx is a soilborne fungus with a high degree of rhizosphere competence that produces a potent herbicidal compound, viridiol, and therefore has potential for development as a bioherbicide. We investigated the possibility of using composted chicken manure (CCM) as a medium for the production and deployment of T. virens. We chose CCM since the safe disposal of chicken manure presents significant logistic problems, and composted manures, as well as serving as an organic source of nitrogen, have been shown to support the activity of other biological control agents. Composted chicken manure supported the growth of T. virens and the rapid production of high concentrations of viridiol, but only when it was supplemented with large quantities of nutrients, including sucrose (16% w/w). Viridiol was not stable when stored in CCM, with a rapid decline in viridiol concentrations observed in T. virens-inoculated CCM cultures. Clearly, a cheaper alternative to sucrose is required as a carbon source for T. virens in CCM or similar media, and effective storage methods would need to be found for a T. virens-based bioherbicide product. Importantly, CCM did not need to be sterilized to support the growth of T. virens and its concomitant production of viridiol, suggesting that on-farm production systems may be feasible. Trichoderma virens-colonized CCM reduced the emergence and seedling growth of redroot pigweed (Amaranthus retroflexus L.) in a greenhouse experiment and dramatically reduced the emergence of a mixed community of broadleaf weeds in the field.
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