Springer Nature is making SARS-CoV-2 and COVID-19 research free. View research | View latest news | Sign up for updates

Evaluation of plant growth-promoting rhizobacteria for biological control of pythium root rot of cucumbers grown in rockwool and effects on yield

  • 307 Accesses

  • 63 Citations


Three strains ofPseudomonas fluorescens (63-49, 63-28, and 15), one strain ofPseudomonas corrugata (13) and one strain ofSerratia plymuthica (R1GC4) were tested on rockwool-grown cucumbers for their ability to reduce Pythium root-rot caused byPythium aphanidermatum. These strains were previously selected for biocontrol ability from collections of >4000 bacteria. Strains 63-49 and 63-28 were tested on cucumber plants grown in rockwool in two replicatedPythium-inoculated trials conducted in British Columbia (B.C). Another inoculated, replicated trial was conducted in Quebec with all five strains. Cucumber yields (fruit number and weight) were measured over a ten-week harvest period. Strain 63-49 caused an early promotion of plant growth and increased cucumber yields at early harvests. No measurable effect ofPythium inoculation on disease development was observed in the Quebec trial, due to unfavourable cool weather. However, 63-49 significantly increased the total number of cucumbers (12%) and cucumber weight (18%), compared to the non-treated control. Strains 13, 15 and R1GC4 slightly increased the cumulative cucumber yields, but strain 63-28 had no effect. In the B.C. trial, inoculation withP. aphanidermatum reduced the number and weight of cucumbers by 27%. Treatments ofPythium-inoculated cucumbers with 63-49 significantly increased fruit number and weight by 18%, compared to thePythium-inoculated control. Strain 63-28 increased the cumulative number of cucumbers over time, compared to thePythium-inoculated control, but the increase was less than with 63-49. The use ofPseudomonas spp. in rockwool-grown cucumbers can increase yields, both in the presence and absence of Pythium root rot, and with variable seasonal conditions and disease pressures.

This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access.


  1. Anonymous (1993) Greenhouse Vegetable Production Guide, British Columbia Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, Victoria, B.C., Canada. 86 pp

  2. Anonymous (1988) Nursery, Greenhouse, Vegetable and Ornamental Production Guide for Commercial Growers. British Columbia, Ministry of Agriculture and Food, Victoria, BC. 24 pp

  3. Anonymous (1992) Seasonal Fruit and Vegetable Production. Statistics Canada Publication 22–203

  4. Arshad M and Frankenberger WT (1991) Microbial production of plant hormones. In: Keister DL and Cregan PB (eds) The Rhizosphere and Plant Growth (pp. 327–334) Kluwer Academic Publishers, Dordrecht

  5. Backman PA, Brannen PM and Mahaffee WF (1994) Plant response and disease control following seed inoculation withBacillus subtilis. In: Ryder MH, Stephens PM and Bowen GD (eds) Improving Plant Productivity with Rhizosphere Bacteria (pp. 1–8) CSIRO, Australia

  6. Bochow H (1992) Phytosanitary effects ofBacillus subtilis as biocontrol agent. Mededelingen van de Faculteit Land-bouwwetenschappen Rijksuniveriteit Gent 57: 387–393

  7. Crowder MJ and Hand DJ (1990) Analysis of Repeated Measures. Chapman and Hall, London

  8. de Freitas JR and Germida JJ (1989) Plant growth-promoting rhizobacteria for winter wheat. Canadian Journal of Microbiology 36: 265–272

  9. Elad Y and Chet I (1987) Possible role of competition for nutrients in biocontrol of Pythium damping-off by bacteria. Phytopathology 77: 190–195

  10. Favrin, RJ, Rahe JE and Mauza B (1988)Pythium spp. associated with crown rot of cucumbers in British Columbia greenhouses. Plant Disease 72: 683–687

  11. Gagné S, Dehbi L, Le-Quere D, Cayer F, Morin JL, Lemay R and Fournier N (1993) Increase of greenhouse tomato fruit yields by plant growth-promoting rhizobacteria (PGPR) inoculated into the peat-based growing media. Soil Biology and Biochemistry 25: 269–272

  12. Gamard P, Bel-Rhlid R, Labbe C, Bélanger R and Paulitz T (1996) Production of multiple antifungal compounts by PGPR strains ofPseudomonas fluorescens andSerratia plymuthica. Canadian Journal of Plant Pathology (Abstr.) 18: 89–90

  13. Hadar Y, Harman GE, Taylor AG and Norton JM (1983) Effects of pregermination of pea and cucumber seeds and of seed treatment withEnterobacter cloacae on rots caused byPythium spp. Phytopathology 73: 1322–1325

  14. Harris AR (1994) Plant growth promotion and biological controls for damping-off in container-grown seedlings using soil bacteria and fungi. In: Ryder MH, Stephens PM and Bowen GD (eds) Improving Plant Productivity with Rhizosphere Bacteria (pp. 18–23) CSIRO, Australia

  15. Klieber A, Lin WC, Jolliffe PA and Hall JW (1993) Training systems affect canopy light exposure and shelf life of long English cucumber. Journal of the American Society for Horticultural Science 118: 786–790

  16. Kloepper JW, Hume DJ, Scher FM, Singleton C, Tipping B, Laliberté M, Frauley K, Kutchaw T, Simonson C, Lifshitz R, Zaleska I and Lee L (1988) Plant growth-promoting rhizobacteria on canola (rapeseed). Plant Disease 72: 42–46

  17. Kloepper JW, Zablotowivz RM, Tipping EM and Lifshitz R (1991) Plant growth promotion mediated by bacterial rhizosphere colonizers. In: Keister DL and Cregan PB (eds) The Rhizosphere and Plant Growth (pp. 315–326) Kluwer Academic Publishers, Dordrecht

  18. Liu L, Kloepper JW and Tuzun S (1995) Induction of systemic resistance in cucumber against Fusarium wilt by plant growth-promoting rhizobacteria. Phytopathology 85: 695–698

  19. Mass EF and Adamson RM (1981) Artificial Media in Horticulture — Their Formulation and Fertilization for Bedding Plants, Vegetable Seedling Blocks, Greenhouse Vegetables, Container-Grown Shrubs and Home Gardening. Ottawa, Ontario, Canada: Agriculture Canada. Publication 1726/E

  20. Menzies JG, Ehret DL and Stan S (1996) The effect of inoculum density ofPythium aphanidermatum on the growth and yield of cucumber plants grown in recirculated nutrient film culture. Can J Plant Path 18: 50–54

  21. Menzies JG and Jarvis WR (1994) Greenhouse cucumber: Crown and root rots, damping off. In: Howard RJ, Garland JA and Seaman WL (eds) Diseases and Pests of Vegetable Crops in Canada (pp. 307–308) The Canadian Phytopathological Society and the Entomological Society of Canada, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada

  22. Moulin F, Lemanceau P and Alabouvette C (1994a) Control by fluorescent pseudomonads ofPythium aphanidermatum root rot, responsible for yield reduction in soilless culture of cucumber. In: Ryder MH, Stephens PM and Bowen GD (eds) Improving Plant Productivity with Rhizosphere Bacteria (pp. 47–50) CSIRO, Australia

  23. Moulin F, Lemanceau P and Alabouvette C (1994b) Pathogenicity ofPythium species on cucumber in peat-sand, rockwool and hydroponics. European Journal of Plant Pathology 100: 3–17

  24. Paulitz TC, Zhou T and Rankin L (1992) Selection of rhizosphere bacteria for biological control ofPythium aphanidermatum on hydroponically grown cucumber. Biological Control 2: 226–237

  25. Paulitz TC and Baker R (1987) Biological control of Pythium damping-off of cucumbers withPythium nunn: Population dynamics and disease suppression. Phytopathology 77: 335–340

  26. Postma J, Wilemsen de Klein M and Hoogland EE (1995) Biocontrol ofPythium aphanidermatum in closed culture systems. Abstracts of the 4th IOBC/EFPP Workshop on Biological and Integrated Control of Root Diseases in Soilless Cultures

  27. Rankin R and Paulitz TC (1994) Evaluation of rhizosphere bacteria for biological control of Pythium root rot of greenhouse cucumbers in hydroponic culture. Plant Disease 78: 447–451

  28. Reddy MS, Hynes RK and Lazarovits G (1993) Relationship between in vitro growth inhibition of pathogens and suppression of preemergence damping-off and postemergence root rot of white bean seedlings in the greenhouse by bacteria. Canadian Journal of Microbiology 40: 113–119

  29. Thinggaard K, Larsen H and Hockenhull J (1988) AntagonisticPythium against pathogenicPythium on cucumber roots. Bulletin-OEPP. 18: 91–94

  30. Turner JT and Backman P. (1989) Factors relating to peanut yield increases followingBacillus subtilis seed treatment. Plant Disease 75: 347–353

  31. Zhou T and Paulitz TC (1995) Induced resistance in the biocontrol ofPythium aphanidermatum byPseudomonas spp. on cucumber. Journal of Phytopathology 142: 51–63

Download references

Author information

Correspondence to T. C. Paulitz.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Cite this article

McCullagh, M., Utkhede, R., Menzies, J.G. et al. Evaluation of plant growth-promoting rhizobacteria for biological control of pythium root rot of cucumbers grown in rockwool and effects on yield. Eur J Plant Pathol 102, 747–755 (1996). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF01877149

Download citation

Key words

  • Pseudomonas fluorescens
  • Pseudomonas corrugata
  • Serratia plymuthica
  • Pythium aphanidermatum
  • PGPR
  • biological control