Current Microbiology

, Volume 75, Issue 12, pp 1589–1601 | Cite as

Assessment of the Detrimental Impact of Polyvalent Streptophages Intended to be Used as Biological Control Agents on Beneficial Soil Streptoflora

  • Nina R. Ashfield-Crook
  • Zachary Woodward
  • Martin Soust
  • D. İpek KurtbökeEmail author


Streptophages are currently being investigated to control potato common scab, however, since a majority of streptophages are reported to be polyvalent, their potential to infect beneficial soil streptomycetes during the application process may have unintended consequences. To test this hypothesis, two phytopathogenic fungi, namely Fusarium solani and Rhizoctonia solani, were tested for their detrimental effect on the test crop wheat (Triticum aestivum cv. Gutha). F. solani caused a significant root weight reduction (34%) in the wheat plant and therefore was tested further in the pot trials with actinomycetes present. Sixty-seven streptomycete isolates from a Tasmanian potato farm were screened for their antifungal abilities against the two phytopathogenic fungi. Four actinomycetes found to be strongly antifungal were then tested for their disease-protective abilities against F. solani in pot trials again using wheat. Addition of the streptomycetes into the container media protected the plants against F. solani, indicating that streptomycetes have a disease-suppressive effect. A further pot trial was conducted to evaluate whether these beneficial streptomycete species would be affected by streptophage treatment and subsequently result in an increased risk of fungal infections. When streptophages were added to the pots, the shoot and root growth of wheat declined by 23.6% and 8.0%, respectively, in the pots with the pathogenic fungus compared to the control pots. These differences might suggest that removal of antifungal streptomycetes by polyvalent phages from plant rhizosphere when biocontrol of plant pathogenic streptomycetes (e.g. Streptomyces scabiei) is targeted might encourage secondary fungal infections in the farm environment. The presented data provide preliminary evidence that streptophage treatment of pathogenic streptomycetes may lead to an aggravated disease risk by soil-borne fungal pathogens when naturally present antagonists are removed. As a result, extensive farm site trials are required to determine the long-term detrimental impact of polyvalent streptophage treatments on beneficial soil streptoflora.



Authors thank Terragen Biotech Pty. Ltd. for financial support and Mr Karl Stokes for collection of the soil and potato samples. Gratitude is expressed to the New South Wales Department of Primary Industries for providing the S. scabiei type strain. Gratefully acknowledge Dr Ken Wasmund, Division of Microbial Ecology (DOME), Department of Microbiology and Ecosystem Science, University of Vienna, Austria, for the construction of the phylogenetic tree. Authors also thank Dr Shahla Hosseini-Bai, Mr Daniel Shelley and Dr Daniel Powell for the technical support and Mr Tuan Son Le for the statistical analysis.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare no conflict of interest.

Supplementary material

284_2018_1565_MOESM1_ESM.docx (15 kb)
Supplementary Table 1 (DOCX 15 KB)
284_2018_1565_MOESM2_ESM.docx (29 kb)
Supplementary Table 2 (DOCX 29 KB)


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Nina R. Ashfield-Crook
    • 1
  • Zachary Woodward
    • 2
  • Martin Soust
    • 2
  • D. İpek Kurtböke
    • 1
    Email author
  1. 1.GeneCology Research Centre and the Faculty of Science, Health, Education and EngineeringUniversity of the Sunshine CoastMaroochydore DCAustralia
  2. 2.Terragen Biotech Pty. Ltd.MelbourneAustralia

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