Evaluating the biological control agent Trichoderma: Enhancement of plant growth and development through biostimulatory volatile treatment

Project Overview

Project Type: Graduate Student
Funds awarded in 2014: $10,248.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2015
Grant Recipient: Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey
Region: Northeast
State: New Jersey
Graduate Student:
Faculty Advisor:
Dr. Joan Bennett
Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey

Annual Reports


  • Vegetables: tomatoes


  • Crop Production: application rate management, biological inoculants, foliar feeding, organic fertilizers
  • Production Systems: organic agriculture
  • Soil Management: organic matter, soil microbiology

    Proposal abstract:

    Present research aims to investigate alternative methods of improving the sustainability of greenhouse production by utilizing the biological control agent Trichoderma and its biostimulatory gases.  Using a novel method of exposure, we demonstrated that Trichoderma gases (volatile organic compounds [VOCs]) induce growth promoting effects in plants such as tomatoes and Arabidopsis.  Exposure to Trichoderma VOCs caused increased plant biomass, robust root growth and lessened the effect of abiotic stressors like low light and extreme temperatures.  These results demonstrated the potential for these biostimulatory compounds to be applied in greenhouse vegetable production.  The proposed research aims to evaluate nutrient conditions to optimize biostimulatory gas production and identify compounds that can be used in foliar application.  The project will provide an opportunity to optimize the usage of Trichoderma and provide new methods of application for organic and large scale commercial greenhouse operations.  The discovery of phytostimulation through gaseous exposure and development of volatile treatments through this research will provide another powerful tool in agriculture.

    Project objectives from proposal:

    1.  Evaluate nutrients to optimize biostimulatory gas production by Trichoderma.


    a) Assess the effectiveness of nutrients for optimal fungal volatile emissions using split plate bioassay, b) Evaluate optimized nutrient condition for best stimulation of tomatoes


    2.  Identify specific fungal volatile organic compounds that are responsible for plant growth promotion.  a) Expose chemical standard compounds in low concentrations and evaluate biostimulation and/or phytotoxicity on plants, b) Expose tomatoes to growth promoting compound(s)


    3.  Develop a method of application of biostimulatory volatile compounds in greenhouse setting.  Develop a robust scale-up option for treatment of seeds and/or vegetative tomatoes


    4. Provide outreach through professional society meetings, community programs and training in agricultural extension, publications, and undergraduate education 

    Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture or SARE.