Biological Control of Ground Ivy Using a Rust Fungus 2001
Project Leader(s): Dr. Antonio DiTommaso, Assistant Professor, Dept. of Crop & Soil Sciences, Cornell University
Dr. Leslie A. Weston, Associate Professor, Dept. of Horticulture, Cornell University.
Cooperator(s): Dr. Kathie T. Hodge, Assistant Professor, Dept. of Plant Pathology, Cornell University
Cornell Cooperative Extension Educators
Type of grant: Biological control and pest biology
Project location(s): Central New York, possibly the entire state
Abstract: Ground ivy or creeping Charlie (Glechoma hederacea) is a creeping perennial in the Mint Family that forms dense prostrate patches in turfgrass, damp shady meadows, and disturbed sites. The control of ground ivy using chemical and mechanical methods has largely been unsuccessful in turfgrass where it is considered a major weed. Thus, there is an urgent need to develop and evaluate alternative approaches for the control of ground ivy in turfgrass that are effective and environmentally sound. Several rust fungi have been reported to infect ground ivy in its native Eurasian range. In 1998, one of these rusts, Puccinia glechomatis, was found in North America including on ground ivy plants growing in Syracuse, NY. Research to date has demonstrated that this rust fungus infects only plant species within the genus Glechoma. The goal of this study was to (1) determine the distribution of the Puccinia glechomatis rust on turfgrass ground ivy populations in the Ithaca, NY area and surrounding counties, (2) assess the potential of the rust to effectively suppress ground ivy in turfgrass, and (3) determine whether the rust infects non-host plant species in turfgrass. Field surveys during the 2001 growing season indicate that the rust has infected ground ivy plants in the Ithaca, NY area as well as several surrounding counties. In field trials within naturally infected turf, the rust reduced ground ivy coverage nearly 30% by mid-September compared with coverage in late May before disease symptoms were observed. Disease symptoms were not observed on any of the turfgrass species or other non-target plants in infected plots. These preliminary findings suggest that the selective rust, Puccinia glechomatis, may be a promising biocontrol candidate for suppressing ground ivy in turfgrass and warrants further research., in press.