Fungal endophytes of Brachiaria, a nonhost of Sclerotinia sclerotiorum, may harbor species with antagonistic effects against this plant pathogen. The objective of this work was to investigate the diversity of endophytic fungi associated with different Brachiaria species and hybrids and evaluate their potential to inhibit the plant pathogen S. sclerotiorum. Stem samples from 39 Brachiaria spp. plants were collected in pasture fields and experimental areas of three states of Brazil resulting in 74 endophytes isolated. Twenty-eight species were identified by sequences of the Internal Transcribed Spacer (ITS) and 18S rDNA regions. Paraconiothyrium sp. was the most abundant endophyte, accounting for 24 % (14 isolates) of total, and it was isolated from B. ruziziensis, B. decumbens, B. humidicola, and B. brizantha. Phoma sorghina was the second most abundant taxon, followed by Sarocladium strictum, and Plenodomus sp. In vitro analyses showed that Paraconiothyrium sp., Sarocladium kiliense, Acremonium curvulum, Setophoma terrestris, Dissoconium sp., and Cladosporium flabelliforme exhibited antagonistic activity against S. sclerotiorum, with percentages of growth inhibition ranging from 25 to 60 (p < 0.05). Paraconiothyrium sp. BBXE1 (60 %), BBPB4.1 (60 %), BCMT4.1 (54 %), and S. kiliense (54 %) showed the highest values of Antagonism Percentages (AP). Therefore, fungi with inhibitory activity against S. sclerotiorum such as Paraconiothyrium sp. are naturally endophytic in Brachiaria grasses.
Coniothyrium-like fungi; Urochloa; tropical forage grasses; antagonism; white mold