New fungicide control

New fungicide control

Zio, a fungicide from SePRO Corporation, delivers multiple modes of action to efficaciously control a broad spectrum of turf pathogens.

February 2, 2017
Image: Zio works with multiple modes of action that can be divided into three groups. First, antimicrobial compounds, such as pyrrolnitrin and resorcinol, interfere with fungi life cycles. Second, enzymes directly attack fungi and the skeletons of their cell walls. Third, the organism rapidly colonizes roots and interstitial spaces.


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Easy to use and containing multiple modes of action golf course superintendents can use against a broad spectrum of diseases — such as brown patch, pythium, and anthracnose — Zio represents a new unique approach to biologicals. Three years in the making, Zio, a biological fungicide from SePRO Corp., is expected to become EPA-registered for the turf market and available for orders this summer.

“It’s a unique, Pseudomonas strain that has shown efficacy in greenhouse, lab and university field trials against a broad spectrum of pathogens,” says Dr. Jeff Atkinson, SePRO portfolio leader for turf and landscape. “When you look at the evolution of biological control and efficacy of biological control, we really see Zio as the next step in activity.”

Dr. Lee Simmons, technical director for AgBiome Innovations, says Zio differs from other biologicals in one simple way: it’s effective. “There are numerous microbial companies out there these days,” he says. “A good segment of those new microbial companies are focusing on stimulants and biostimulants, things like that. We’re not there at all. We are 100 percent in the pesticidal realm, and we are looking for products and developing products that control pests.”

AgBiome Innovations, the commercial arm of AgBiome, directs technical efforts and field trials, and builds business development relationships with companies such as SePRO, says Ted Piatt, AgBiome Innovations sales director. AgBiome Innovation’s agreement with SePRO is its first such relationship. SePRO is marketing Zio, the first fungicide for the turf market to come out of the AgBiome Innovations pipeline.

“We’re very proud of our relationship with SePRO,” Piatt says. “We know that SePRO is a well-established company — marketer and brander — of products in the turf and ornamental sector, and that they do a very good job and have a high profile in those areas. They have expertise on the technical side in sales and marketing in both turf and golf, and then ornamental horticulture.”

Zio works with multiple modes of action that Simmons says can be divided into three groups. First, antimicrobial compounds, such as pyrrolnitrin and resorcinol, interfere with fungi life cycles. Second, enzymes directly attack fungi and the skeletons of their cell walls. Third, the organism rapidly colonizes roots and interstitial spaces.

While many other biologicals in the turf market are spore-forming bacteria, Zio sets itself apart because it is a bacterial biological organism, Simmons says. “This is naturally collected as a soil-borne organism that interestingly has a long shelf stability when formulated properly, a very low sensitivity to ultraviolet light, which is unusual and unique, and also controls both soil-borne and foliar diseases, which is very unusual in the biological world,” he says.

“To a superintendent, the level of activity across a broad spectrum of pathogens is what separates it, mainly,” Atkinson says. When development began, the product’s target pathogen was brown patch and other rhizoctonia species, but researchers have also found activity on pythium and anthracnose.

Zio has proven effective against these pathogens because that is where the research has been focused, but the potential exists for it to treat against other diseases as well, Simmons says. “We think there are many other pathogens that are still to be determined,” he says.

Through research conducted with Zio, scientists in North Carolina State University’s Department of Plant Pathology have seen control of brown patch, but need more data to determine how the product affects other diseases, says NCSU turfgrass pathologist Dr. James Kerns.

Superintendents will find ease of use with Zio, Atkinson says. The product has a two-year shelf life, evidenced by the fact that scientists have been checking its efficacy since it was formulated and put on the shelf, and results are still staying strong. Additionally, Zio doesn’t have to be refrigerated or shipped in a climate-controlled container.

As storage of Zio is simple, so is application, Simmons says. Superintendents can use their regular application materials and methods at 14-day intervals that are comparable with other chemistries.

Biologicals like Zio allow superintendents to use options that are “softer” than synthetic pesticides, Kerns says. “Biologicals are very specific — even more specific than pesticides,” he adds. “Therefore, they are to be used to reduce pesticide inputs or manage a certain disease without a pesticide.” With Zio, superintendents should expect good control of brown patch and potentially pythium root rot as well, he says.

Zio generally works best in accordance with, rather than as a replacement for, synthetic fungicides, Atkinson says. It works well when used alone early in the season and in combination with complimentary fungicides against heavy disease pressure.

Throughout the golf course industry, more pressure will continue to be put on synthetic options, so superintendents should be aware of the value in the tools that they have, Atkinson says. Biological options like Zio can be used in fungicide programs, and eventually, insecticide and herbicide programs, to help reduce the industry’s environmental footprint.

The reentry interval for Zio is the minimum that the EPA requires, Simmons says. “This is a big deal,” he says. “The timing when (superintendents) make their applications is only certain days of the week that they can close or that they don’t have play, and sure enough, that’s when you get a rain event or something that prevents application. So having something with a very short reentry interval is a big deal to a lot of superintendents so that they can go in, they can make applications in the morning and they can go out and play that same day.”

Simmons attributes AgBiome’s edge over other microbial companies to its Genesis discovery and development platform. The four-year-old company has a collection of around 35,000 active, sequenced organisms to choose from when formulating products.

With Genesis, AgBiome scientists gather soil samples from numerous locales, identify soil microbes and run a full genomic sequence on soil microbes, Piatt says. “In such a short period of time, these scientists here have acquired the world’s largest bank of fully sequenced microbiomes,” he says. Using this information, AgBiome’s scientists identify which organisms they should use to develop a fungicide, insecticide or nematicide.

The partnership between AgBiome and SePRO came about, in part, because the two companies shared similar visions for where the industry is headed and it became apparent that they would be able to work synergistically, Atkinson says. Their relationship will continue as they research and develop more products.

Simmons says he has worked on a variety of projects and products in the past, and he has been particularly impressed with Zio. “These modes of action are quite different than the other fungicidal products that are out there,” he says. “There’s a big need, not just for biologicals, but for more products in general to fill the arsenal of superintendents out there.”

Click HERE for more information about Zio fungicide.

Patrick Williams is a Cleveland-based writer and frequent GCI contributor.