Microbial Ecology

, Volume 55, Issue 1, pp 119–129 | Cite as

Sugar Beet-Associated Bacterial and Fungal Communities Show a High Indigenous Antagonistic Potential Against Plant Pathogens

  • Christin Zachow
  • Ralf Tilcher
  • Gabriele BergEmail author


The aim of this study was to analyze microbial communities in/on sugar beet with special focus on antagonists toward plant pathogens. For this purpose, the composition of microorganisms isolated from the rhizosphere, phyllosphere, endorhiza, and endosphere of field-grown sugar beet plants was analyzed by a multiphasic approach at three different plant development stages at six locations in Europe. The analysis of microbial communities by Single Strand Conformation Polymorphism (SSCP) of 16S/18S rRNA clearly revealed the existence of discrete microenvironment- and site-specific patterns. A total of 1952 bacterial and 1344 fungal isolates screened by dual testing for antagonism toward the pathogens Aphanomyces cochlioides, Phoma betae, Pythium ultimum, and Rhizoctonia solani resulted in 885 bacterial (=45%) and 437 fungal (=33%) antagonists. In general, the indigenous antagonistic potential was very high and influenced by (a) the location, (b) the plant developmental stage, and (3) the microenvironment. Furthermore, we showed for the first time that the antagonistic potential was highly specific for each target pathogen. The majority of antagonistic microorganisms suppressed only one pathogen (bacteria: 664 = 75%; fungi: 256 = 59%), whereas the minority showed a broad host range (bacteria: 4 = 0.5%; fungi: 7 = 1.6%). The bacterial communities harbored the highest antagonistic potential against P. ultimum, whereas the fungal communities contained more antagonists against A. cochlioides and R. solani. In contrast to their high proportion, only a low diversity of antagonists at genotypic and species level was found. Novel antagonistic species, e.g., Subtercola pratensis or Microbacterium testaceum were found in the internal part of the sugar beet body.


Sugar Beet Fungal Community Single Strand Conformation Polymorphism Rhizoctonia Solani Anastomosis Group 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



The authors thank Carolin Helmker (KWS SAAT AG, Einbeck) for her help during samplings and Hella Goschke (Rostock) for her valuable technical assistance in the lab. For providing the model pathogens, we thank Rita Grosch (Großbeeren) and Sebastian Kiewnick (Bonn). This study was funded by the KWS SAAT AG.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  • Christin Zachow
    • 1
    • 2
  • Ralf Tilcher
    • 3
  • Gabriele Berg
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  1. 1.University of Rostock, MicrobiologyRostockGermany
  2. 2.Institute of Environmental BiotechnologyGraz Technical UniversityGrazAustria
  3. 3.KWS SAAT AGEinbeckGermany

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