, Volume 357, Issue 1-2, pp 245-257
Date: 25 Feb 2012

Biochar mediates systemic response of strawberry to foliar fungal pathogens

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Background and Aims

Various biochars added to soil have been shown to improve plant performance. Moreover, a wood biochar was found to induce tomato and pepper plant systemic resistance to two foliar fungal pathogens. The aim of this study was to explore the ability of wood biochar and greenhouse waste biochar to induce systemic resistance in strawberry plants against Botrytis cinerea, Colletotrichum acutatum and Podosphaera apahanis, and to examine at the molecular level some of their impacts on plant defense mechanisms.


Disease development tests on plants grown on 1 or 3% biochar-amended potting mixture, and quantification of relative expression of 5 plant defense-related genes (FaPR1, Faolp2, Fra a3, Falox, and FaWRKY1) by real-time PCR were carried out.


Biochar addition to the potting medium of strawberry plants suppressed diseases caused by the three fungi, which have very different infection strategies. This suggests that biochar stimulated a range of general defense pathways, as confirmed by results of qPCR study of defense-related gene expression. Furthermore, primed-state of defense-related gene expression was observed upon infection by B. cinerea and P. aphanis.


The ability of biochar amendment to promote transcriptional changes along different plant defense pathways probably contributes to its broad spectrum capacity for disease suppression.