Three UB students develop bacteria to fight fungus attacking cayenne peppers

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Cindy Diah Ayu Fitriana, Nava Karina, and Achmad Roekhan develop bacteria to fight cayenne pepper attacking fungus. (photo: UB)

IO, Malang – Cayenne peppers are a horticultural commodity contributing 0.08% to inflation from the 3.2% national inflation last year (Bank Indonesia, 2018). The inflation was a result of the increase of cayenne pepper prices. Prices increased as a result of an anthracnose disease caused by the fungus Colletotrichum capsica killing the peppers.

The anthracnose disease in cayenne peppers shrank production of the chili by 50-90% per hectare. Management of the disease by farmers using fungicide has not yet been proven effective and has caused serious negative impacts on the environment and human health.

As a result, students from the Faculty of Agriculture in the Universitas Brawijaya (FP UB) Cindy Diah Ayu Fitriana, Nava Karina, and Achmad Roekhan, under the guidance of Luqman Qurata Aini SP., M.Si., Ph.D carried out development of chitinolytic bacteria in UB Forest which has the ability to quickly and effectively inhibit the growth of the Colletotrichum capsici pathogen which causes anthracnose disease.

One of the team’s members, Roekhan stated that the chitinolytic bacteria in UB Forest were more active compared to the same bacteria living in waters making it more effective in agricultural use. “Generally, chitinolytic bacteria are found in water. From 78 bacteria present in UB forest, 76 were chitinolytic bacteria,” he said to the media (13/8/2019).

Based on the research conducted by students, the chitinolytic bacteria from UB Forest had the ability to inhibit the growth of Colletotrichum capsici by up to 100%. The advantage of the chitinolytic bacteria in fighting the anthracnose disease compared to fungicides was that chitinolytic bacteria were faster to lysis the pathogenic cell walls, which consisted mainly of chitin, by 22-40%.

The usage of chitinolytic bacteria from UB Forest as an antagonistic microbe and green technology based on biological agents needs to be further developed and is hoped to become a solution in solving the issue of anthracnose and support the implementation of sustainable agriculture. (*/est)