Seed World

Understanding Trichoderma Takes a Little Digging

ABM’s strains aren’t just present on the seed — they grow along with and inside the plant roots throughout the season.

The difference between fungal strains is the same as the difference between humans: genetics.
We are all human beings, but we don’t all have the same abilities. The difference between strains of an organism is the same as the difference between different people. Just because we are all human doesn’t mean we can all run a four-minute mile or swim the English Channel.
Likewise, not all Trichoderma strains are created equal. Just because a certain fungus belongs to the genus, doesn’t mean it will provide growth promotion, biological control, or season long benefits.
Used in the company’s Bradyrhizobium and Rhizobium products, and as standalone products, ABM’s Trichoderma strains have been specifically selected from a broad range of natural diversity to provide these benefits.
Trichoderma is one of many species of mold. While its use in agriculture is widespread in many different products, ABM’s strains are unique. While other manufacturers use the same strain on all crops, ABM takes advantage of the strengths of different strains.
ABM’s strains are sequenced — the company’s developers know exactly what they have and can use this information for next-generation tools and products. ABM’s strains have been specifically selected for consistent performance from year to year and across all varieties.
“Very few strains live within the plant and grow with the plant for the whole season. ABM’s strains have been selected to do this,” says Dr. Molly Cadle-Davidson, Associate Science Officer for ABM.
This ability means that the microbes are growing within the plant and can provide season-long benefits. Further, because the microbe is inside the plant, its environment is the plant root — not potentially harsh conditions outside the root.
“This is one reason why ABM’s strains work equally well across a wide variety of environments,” Cadle-Davidson adds.
ABM has unique capabilities in large-scale production of Trichoderma. This leadership position is now being rapidly enhanced, especially through rapid advances in PCR systems and visualization through advanced microscopy of plant-microbe interactions.
ABM’s biological products offer unparalleled opportunities and capabilities to improve plant performance, including dramatic improvements in plant growth and yield.
For example, strains used in ABM’s SabrEx seed treatment increase by up to 10,000 times within two days after planting.
SabrEx logo outlined no crop
There are challenges: Biologicals are not chemicals, and there are industry-wide requirements for their reliable use. ABM has an unparalleled understanding of the challenges and can provide good, economical systems to address and meet these challenges, according to Cadle-Davidson.
“Each of our strains interacts best with certain crops and causes specific effects. Different microbial metabolites trigger different biochemical pathways in the plant, and that equals different modes of action,” Cadle-Davidson says.
ABM calls this technology iGET — Induced Gene Expression Triggers. Microbials, including ABM’s strains, communicate with plants using metabolites, which helps a crop get the most out of its own genetics.
“These different pathways may both lead to the same result — yield enhancement. In plants, there is always more than one way to get to an end-point,” Cadle-Davidson adds. “Therefore, our expertise in iGET allows us to combine strains utilizing different modes of action to get effects even greater than a single strain alone.”
ABM has added iGET to an array of other technologies that aid plants in their growth. Improved photosynthetic efficiency has recently become a call-to-arms for agriculture, and ABM has been asked if it can develop products to provide this benefit. Its strains help plants keep photosynthesis up and running even in stressful conditions such as high light, drought, or biotic stress, Cadle-Davidson adds.
ABM will be in Suite 2176 in the East Tower and on the trade show floor in booth 705. Contact Pete Hayes, Vice-President of Marketing, for further information or to arrange an appointment in the suite at or 877.617.2461.
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