Myrothecium verrucaria, isolated from sicklepod, was investigated for bioherbicide potential against a wide range of economically important weed species from agronomic, pasture, and horticultural systems. A number of different weed species from a range of plant families were highly susceptible to sprays of crude preparations of the fungus. A small number of species, primarily monocots, were tolerant, showing no damage symptoms or insignificant effects on biomass. Symptoms developed very rapidly in susceptible hosts, suggesting the activity of toxins, several of which are known to be produced by Myrothecium spp. The activity of crude harvests of M. verrucaria was not diminished when they were filtered to remove fungal mycelium and spores. In contrast, washed conidia had relatively little impact on weed species. We conclude that the activity of M. verrucaria is primarily caused by the activity of metabolites produced by the fungus in culture and not due to infection by the fungus per se. Myrothecium verrucaria cultural preparations have extremely potent herbicidal properties, but given its ability to produce mammalian toxins, we caution against its use.
Nomenclature: Myrothecium verrucaria (Alb. & Schwein.) Ditmar:Fr. (Hyphomycetes); sicklepod, Cassia obtusifolia L. CASOB.