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Turmeric (Curcuma longa L.) belongs to the family Zingiberaceae is an important commercial spice crop in India. Indian
turmeric is considered the best in the world in terms of total area (224.60 thousand ha), production (587.40 thousand
tones), quality and disease free. Curcumin is the major pigment responsible for the yellow colour in turmeric and its production
is influenced by several factors such as soil type, genotype and nutrient management. Moreover, presently there is an increasing
consciousness amongst people regarding health, hygiene and environmental pollution. Among the several diseases in turmeric
plants, rhizome rot caused by Pythium aphanidermatum is a serious problem in Indian turmeric plantations especially planting
districts such as Coimbatore, Dharmapuri, Erode, Namakkal, and Villupuram belongs to Tamil Nadu state. It has been reported
that there was a significant reduction in turmeric export since 2006 due to this disease. A survey was conducted to asses the
disease intensity and severity in southern Indian turmeric plantations. The results indicated that disease intensity was found to be
high in Erode and Coimbatore followed by Dharmapuri districts. Five susceptible and seven tolerant cultivars were identified. The
population density of T. atroviride was enumerated in turmeric soil samples and subsequently correlated with the soil nutrient
factors. An attempt was made to evaluate the potential of suppressive activity of an indigenous isolate, Trichoderma atroviride
against a turmeric fungal pathogen Pythium aphanidermatum. Dual culture studies, morphological interaction and antibiosis
revealed that the antagonistic properties of the fungal antagonist on P. aphanidermatum. Interaction studies on the sterilized
turmeric rhizomes further confirmed this and also revealed that T. atroviride was able to suppress the growth and reproduction
of P. aphanidermatum as well.
P. Ponmurugan is currently heading the Department of Biotechnology at K. S. Rangasamy College of Technology, Tiruchengode, Namakkal District,
Tamil Nadu, India. He has five funded projects at present in his hand for which financial assistance was obtained from different funding agencies
in India. He has published around 85 papers in various national and International journals and 7 patents to his credits. He is a recipient of ?SERC
FAST-TRACK Young Scientist Fellowship? offered by Department of Science and Technology, New Delhi.
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