Phytopathology, Biological Control

The growing trend of reducing pesticides’ use raises the need for alternative ways of coping with severe fungal diseases such as the late wilt of maize. Hence, we propose developing two environmentally friendly strategies to control maize late wilt disease, for which we have gained positive preliminary results. First, maintaining the continuity of soil mycorrhizal fungi between seasons has proven to be an essential factor in various field crops but has not yet been tested against the late wilt pathogen in Israel. The potential of strengthening soil mycorrhizal networks against the soil fungal pathogen has only now started to be revealed. The unique case of late wilt disease and the encouraging preliminary results provide an excellent opening stage and opportunity to investigate this control method. In order to do this, we will be required to:

Repeat and establish the results using a greenhouse pot experiment over a full growth period
Identify the mycorrhizal fungi involved
Examine ways of strengthening the desired soil mycorrhizal networks
Extend the research to field experiments

Similarly, in recent years we have conducted research with a new Trichoderma spp. isolates and achieved promising results. Consequently, we propose using the effective Trichoderma spp. or their extract in order to prevent the penetration and establishment of the M. maydis pathogen at the early growth period of maize. Thus we suggest using the late wilt controlling agents – Trichoderma isolates – and developing application methods to implement them. This goal will require several steps:

Identifying the active compound/s in the Trichoderma spp. extract
Examining ways of enhancing the secretion of these ingredients
Applying the Trichoderma spp. hyphae or the extract and examining it in sprouts (up to the age of 40 days) under controlled conditions in a growth chamber
Examining the Trichoderma spp. (extract and hyphae) seed coating against direct application of the fungi or their section to the soil under field conditions over a full growth period

We are now specializing in two important and severe corp diseases: cotton charcoal rot, caused by Macrophomina phaseolina, and onion (Allium cepa) basal rot caused by Fusarium spp. The challenges of developing efficient and cost-effective strategies to reduce the diseases’ damages include:

Study these pathogens and their interactions with the host, under different environmental conditions.
Undersending the involvement of other fungal phytopathogens in the diseases’ outburst and damages.
Develop a new research tool-kit to study those diseases.
Search for new ways (chemical, biological, and agro-mechanical) to restrict those diseases’ harmful effects and prevent their spreading.

Principal Researcher

Former Group Members

Former Group Members

Dr. Ofra Dahar, Post-doctoral fellow (2018) (Israel).
Involvement of laccases in the maize pathogen Harpophora maydis - host interactions.

Ben Kalman, M.Sc. student (2020 Tel-Hai College (Israel).
Involvement of Fusarium oxysporum f. sp. cepae. in onion rot: Characterization of the disease cycle, diagnosis and control.

Shlomit Dor , M.Sc. student (2019) Tel-Hai College (Israel).
Inducing resistance and control against Harpophora maydis, the cause of the late wilt disease in maize.

Daniel Movshovitz, M.Sc. student (2018) Tel-Hai College (Israel).
Chemical protection against Harpophora maydis, the causing agent of maize late wilt.

Yuval Goldblat, M.Sc. student (2015) Tel-Hai College (Israel).
Host physiology and environmental stress involvement in the development and pathogenesis of Harpophora maydis and the application of seed dressing to control late wilt.

Shani Cohen, M.Sc. student (2014) Tel-Hai College (Israel).
Final project, track without thesis. Research topic is: Environmental conditions regulate the development of the maize late wilt-causal agent, Harpophora maydis.

Gilad Cernica, M.Sc. student (2012) Tel-Hai College (Israel).
The agent of Late wilt of corn, Harpophora maydis, pathogenesis and control.

Ran Drori, M.Sc. student (2009) The Robert H. Smith Faculty of Agricultural, Food and Environmental Quality Sciences of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem (Israel).
Involvement of Harpophora maydis in wilt of sweet corn: Characterization of the disease cycle and development of protection and control.


Latest Publications

Integrated Management of the Cotton Charcoal Rot Disease Using Biological Agents and Chemical Pesticides

Degani Ofir, Assaf Chen, Elhanan Dimant, Asaf Gordani, Tamir Malul, and Onn Rabinovitz
Journal of Fungi 2024, 10, (4), 250. doi: 10.3390/jof10040250

Impact of Fusarium Species Composition and Incidence on Onion Basal Rot in Northeastern Israel

Degani Ofir, Elhanan Dimant, and Eliyahu Margalit
Horticulturae. 2024; 10(4):373. doi:10.3390/horticulturae10040373

Late Wilt of Maize—The Pathogen, the Disease, Current Status, and Future Perspective

Degani O.
Plant Pathogen Interaction, In: Verma, P.K., Mishra, S., Srivastava, V., Mehrotra, S. (eds). 2024, chapter 4, 89-118, Springer, Singapore.

The Cotton Charcoal Rot Causal Agent, Macrophomina phaseolina, Biological and Chemical Control

Degani, O., Gordani, A., Dimant, E., Chen, A., & Rabinovitz, O.
Frontiers in Plant Science, 2023, 14, 1272335.

Contact Information

Research Group Leader
Dr. Ofir Degani