SLU news

Using a traditional medicinal fungus for biocontrol of tomato diseases

Published: 28 February 2019

Muhammad Asif is a guest researcher at the Centre for Biological Control, CBC, and the Department of Molecular Sciences for six months. In order to reduce the use of chemical pesticides in perishable crops such as tomatoes, he aims to use proteins from the fungus Ganoderma lucidum as biological control agents.

Perishable crops are attacked by many diseases, for example early blight on tomatoes that is caused by the fungal pathogen Alternaria solani. The disease cause significant yield reductions and is usually controlled with chemical pesticides.

However, a more environmentally friendly way of dealing with this pathogen would to use biological control. This is what Muhammad Asif aims to do in his project “Purification of anitfungal proteins from Ganoderma lucidum to control fungal diseases in perishable crops”. The aim with his visit to SLU is to work with the purification of the proteins.

Reducing the use of chemical pesticides

Muhammad Asif is doing his PhD with Professor Dr. Ahmad Ali Shahid at the Institute of Agricultural Sciences at the University of the Punjab, Lahore in Pakistan.

– I am hoping to reduce the usa of chemical pesticide and to replace chemical fungicide with biopesticides. By isolating the best potential antifungal protein or proteins, this product may help to lessen chemical pollution. An additional advantage is that this will reduce the hazardous effect of chemicals on human health as proteins are eco-friendly and easily degradable, says Muhammad Asif.

Ganoderma lucidum – used both in traditional medicine and for biological control

Why did Muhammad Asif choose this research area and why is it important to him?

– Food consumption is increasing day by day with the increase of the world population. Stress is occurring on agricultural lands to get the maximum yield of crops in a season. Use of chemical pesticide has also increased with this stress that is polluting our environment with hazardous components of chemicals as well as also affecting human health. Some environment friendly pesticides are required to minimize the hazardous effect on human health and to get disease free yield of crops, says Muhammad.

Ganoderma lucidum is a traditional medicinal mushroom in Asia that has antifungal, antioxidant, immunomodulatory and is said to have antitumor and antimetastatic activities. There are various types of novel proteins in this fungus that have preventive and curative role in plant defence against fungal infection, says Muhammad.

A serious lack of spicy food in Uppsala…

What does Muhammad Asif do when he is not doing research?

 – In Pakistan, I spend my most of the time with my family like mother, sisters, brothers and their children. I also like to spend my time with friends to play cricket and watching movies. In Uppsala, I spend most of my free time cooking, because I like spicy food that is hardly available here. As I am new here, I love to go and see the beauty of Uppsala. I also plan to visit beautiful places in Sweden as well as other European countries.     

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