, Volume 113, Issue 4, pp 417-435

Effect of Organic Management of Soils on Suppressiveness to Gaeumannomyces graminis var. tritici and its Antagonist, Pseudomonas fluorescens

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Organic management of soils is generally considered to reduce the incidence and severity of plant diseases caused by soil-borne pathogens. In this study, take-all severity on roots of barley and wheat, caused by Gaeumannomyces graminis var. tritici, was significantly lower in organically-managed than in conventionally-managed soils. This effect was more pronounced on roots of barley and wheat plants grown in a sandy soil compared to a loamy organically-managed soil. Fluorescent Pseudomonas spp. and in particular phlD + pseudomonads, key factors in the take-all decline phenomenon, were represented at lower population densities in organically-managed soils compared to conventionally-managed soils. Furthermore, organic management adversely affected the initial establishment of introduced phlD + P. fluorescens strain Pf32-gfp, but not its survival. In spite of its equal survival rate in organically- and conventionally-managed soils, the efficacy of biocontrol of take-all disease by introduced strain Pf32-gfp was significantly stronger in conventionally-managed soils than in organically-managed soils. Collectively, these results suggest that phlD + Pseudomonas spp. do not play a critical role in the take-all suppressiveness of the soils included in this study. Consequently, the role of more general mechanisms involved in take-all suppressiveness in the organically-managed soils was investigated. The higher microbial activity found in the organically-managed sandy soil combined with the significantly lower take-all severity suggest that microbial activity plays, at least in part, a role in the take-all suppressiveness in the organically-managed sandy soil. The significantly different bacterial composition, determined by DGGE analysis, in organically-managed sandy soils compared to the conventionally-managed sandy soils, point to a possible additional role of specific bacterial genera that limit the growth or activity of the take-all pathogen.