Plant and Soil

, Volume 263, Issue 1, pp 133–142

Effect of green manure on Pythium spp. population and microbial communities in intensive cropping systems


  • L.M. Manici
    • Research Institute for Industrial Crops (MiPAF)
  • F. Caputo
    • Research Institute for Industrial Crops (MiPAF)
  • V. Babini
    • Research Institute for Industrial Crops (MiPAF)

DOI: 10.1023/B:PLSO.0000047720.40918.29

Cite this article as:
Manici, L., Caputo, F. & Babini, V. Plant and Soil (2004) 263: 133. doi:10.1023/B:PLSO.0000047720.40918.29


Saprophytic soil-borne pathogens can be either actively suppressed by organic amendments or enhanced, depending on soil health conditions. This can be deleterious in the event of selection of a soil-borne population by previous soil management and short crop rotation. Trials were performed in the open field and in pots, using naturally infected soil from intensive crop systems, i.e., soil from fields with 8 years of strawberry cultivation. The aim was to study short-term response of Pythium and soil microbial populations to green manure. The use of green manure in these naturally infested soils, 3–10 weeks after fresh tissue incorporation, caused Pythium populations to increase concurrent with an increase in soil microbial populations, and did not result in the suppression of the pathogen. A more elaborate trial was performed under controlled conditions, amending soil with fresh wheat plant material, air-dried wheat plant material and an organic fertilizer with a high level of humic substances. Although compared to the original soil, all amendments caused a similar increase in organic matter content and small differences in soil respiration, incorporation of fresh, not decomposed, plant material strongly increased Pythium, while the organic fertilizer did not affect the original level of the pathogen population. The increase in total number of fungi and bacteria did not have any suppressive effect on the Pythium population in naturally infested soil used for this study.

culturable bacteriaorganic farmingplant residuessoil-borne pathogenstotal fungi

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© Kluwer Academic Publishers 2004