Förderkennzeichen: DFG 33052769
The new serious maize pest Diabrotica virgifera virgifera (Western Corn Rootworm, WCR) will cause heavy losses in European maize production areas due to root feeding of the larvae. Root damage will also cause a potential for fungi to invade damaged plant tissue adding serious problems, e.g., related to an increased incidence of mycotoxin producing Fusarium spp. The project aims at understanding the interactions between larval development in the roots of maize and fungal community changes as a result of WCR feeding. We hypothesize that different soil types and different maize cultivars will support different fungal communities in the rhizosphere of maize which might affect WCR larval feeding and development. Larval feeding in turn will induce fungal community changes and might increase the abundance of mycotoxin-producing Fusarium spp. The relationship between incidence of Fusarium sp. densities in the soil and infestation of maize plants and corresponding mycotoxin levels will be tested. To assess the effect of arbuscular mycorrhiza (AM), commonly encountered in maize roots and which are known to interfere with larval feeding and might also interfere with fungal colonization experiments will be also established in the presence or absence of an additional AM inoculum.