, Volume 304, Issue 1-2, pp 189-197
Date: 23 Jan 2008

Enhanced activity of introduced biocontrol agents in solarized soils and its implications on the integrated control of tomato damping-off caused by Pythium spp

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Soil solarization in combination with introduction of biocontrol agents (BCA) was evaluated as a potential disease management strategy for tomato damping-off caused by Pythium spp. A rifampicin resistant Pseudomonas fluorescens strain (PfT-8) and a carbendazim resistant Trichoderma harzianum strain (ThM-1) were introduced into soil following solarization. Tomato seeds were planted into treated field plots. The influence of soil solarization and application of biocontrol agents on damping-off incidence, plant biomass, rhizosphere population of introduced antagonists, and native Pythium spp. was assessed by two consecutive field trials. Damping-off incidence was significantly reduced in solarized plots compared to control. Soil inoculation of biocontrol agents into solarized plots resulted in the highest suppression of damping-off incidence (PfT-8 up to 92%; ThM-1 up to 83%), and increase in plant biomass (PfT-8 up to 66%; ThM-1 up to 48%) when compared to un-solarized control plots. Rhizosphere population of introduced biocontrol agents gradually increased (PfT-8 up to 102% and ThM-1 up to 84%) in solarized soils when compared to unsolarized control. The population of Pythium spp in rhizosphere soil was reduced up to 55% in solarized plots; whereas, application of BCA to solarized soils reduced the rhizosphere population of Pythium spp. by 86 and 82% in P. fluorescens and T. harzianum applied plots respectively.

Responsible Editor: Peter A. H. Bakker