BACKGROUND: The in vitro antifungal activity of zimmu (Allium cepa L. x Allium sativum L.) extract against Aspergillus flavus Link., Fusarium moniliforme Sheld, Curvularia lunata (Wakker) Boedijn and Alternaria alternata (Fr.) Keissler, the fungi associated with grain mold of sorghum, was evaluated. An emulsifiable concentrate (EC) formulation of zimmu extract was prepared and its efficacy in controlling grain mold was tested under field conditions. RESULTS: The leaf extract of zimmu exhibited strong antifungal activity against A. flavus, F. moniliforme, C. lunata and A. alternata and caused in vitro fungal growth inhibition of 73.3%, 71.1%, 70.0% and 74.4%, respectively. Foliar application of zimmu formulation 50 EC at 3 mLL-1 (v/v) concentration 60, 75 and 90 days after sowing significantly reduced the incidence of grain mold and increased the grain weight and grain hardness. A significant reduction in the anatoxin B1 content in sorghum grains was observed when sorghum plants were sprayed with zimmu formulation 50 EC at 0.3% concentration. Western blot analysis revealed that a thaumatin-like protein (TLP) a molecular mass of 23 kDa that cross-reacted with zeamatin antiserum was expressed at higher levels in sorghum grains after treatment with zimmu formulations. CONCLUSION: The leaf extract of zimmu exhibited antifungal activity against sorghum grain mold fungi. The formulated zimmu extract was significantly effective in reducing the grain mold incidence in sorghum under field conditions. This formulated zimmu extract offers a novel alternative for eco-friendly management of grain mold of sorghum.
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