Pathogenic fungi which infect the root system and crown tissues through root hairs, natural openings, or wounds, can rapidly colonize these tissues and enter the vascular tissues, causing decay and death of the plants. Most of these pathogens infect during the early stages of plant development, although disease symptoms may only be manifested later. Fungal biological control agents have been described which when applied to the seed, planting medium, or roots of plants, can colonize the root system, occupy potential infection sites, and compete with the pathogen. In addition, these agents may enhance resistance in the plants through induction of various defense responses, and secrete hydrolytic enzymes and antibiotics that inhibit pathogen growth and development. The most widely-researched of these biocontrol agents are antagonistic fungi (Trichoderma and Gliocladium species) and nonpathogenic, closely-related fungi (Pythium, Fusarium, and Rhizoctonia species), as well as mycoparasitic distantly related fungi such as Talaromyces, Coniothyrium, Sporidesmium, Stachybotrys, and Verticillium (Table 1).
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