In nature, dozens of species of harmful fungi can quickly kill a plant, including Fusarium spp., the causal agents of Fusarium wilt, and Phakospora pachyrhizi, the causal agent of soybean rust. Fungi are unable to produce nutrients on their own, so they must find another source; sometimes that source is old bread, orange peels, a rotting tree trunk, or a plant’s translocation tissues. These pathogenic fungi thrive in conditions of poor air circulation, slow water drainage, over-irrigation or too much rainfall. Such poor conditions can often be prevented by spacing plants properly, following an irrigation schedule, and removing fungus-prone debris, such as old plant material and weeds. No matter what we do, though, there is a good chance that pathogenic fungi will infect our plants at one time or another.
Unfortunately, in our modern world, chemical fertilizers and pesticides have become the norm in agricultural production, causing severe and serious environmental pollution. Use of these agricultural methods can lead farmers to become dependent on more and more inputs, as environmental imbalance ensues.
Fortunately, Fungi Kingdom is not exclusively populated by pathogenic intruders, dwelling unpoliced in the murky corners of the invisible world. Two particular beneficials of the fungal world, Trichoderma spp. and Beauveria bassiana, have been widely studied for their beneficial properties in agricultural production. The potential of these fungi species is especially exciting because of their ability to improve agricultural productivity while decreasing the development of fungicide-resistant pathogens.