Collembolans and soil nematodes as biological regulators of the plant pathogen Fusarium culmorum
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A field study was conducted to investigate biocontrol and interaction effects of important members (Folsomia candida, Collembola, and Aphelenchoides saprophilus, Nematoda) of the soil food web on the plant pathogenic fungus Fusarium culmorum in wheat straw. The soil fauna was introduced in minicontainers in different numbers and combinations and exposed to either Fusarium-infected or non-infected wheat straw. Minicontainers were established in the topsoil of a winter wheat field after harvest. After 2 and 4 weeks, biomass of F. culmorum was detected in samples of soil and wheat straw using double antibody sandwich (DAS) ELISA method. Furthermore, individual density of collembolans and nematodes was determined. The content of Fusarium biomass was reduced significantly throughout all treatments after 2 weeks. After 4 weeks of minicontainer exposure, Fusarium biomass decreased significantly in treatments containing collembolans and nematodes in single culture compared to the control. The results demonstrate the potential of collembolans and nematodes as biological regulators. Furthermore, the introduced soil fauna contributes to a sustainable control of fungal plant pathogens in wheat straw, thus reducing the risk of plant diseases as an important ecosystem service for soil health.
KeywordsPlant pathogen repression Biocontrol Soil health Ecosystem services Functional soil biodiversity
The excellent technical assistance of Sabine El Sayed, Berthold Ortmeier, Evelin Schummer, Sina Wedekind and Marco Hornbostel is gratefully acknowledged. For providing the climate data of the field site we thank Jan Bug from the Institute of Physical Geography and Landscape Ecology, University of Hannover. The study was supported by the German Federal Environmental Foundation, Deutsche Bundesstiftung Umwelt (DBU), by providing a personal grant to Friederike Meyer-Wolfarth. Furthermore, the financial support of the Brigitte and Wolfram Gedek-Stiftung is gratefully acknowledged.
Compliance with ethical standards
Conflict of interest
The authors declare that there are no conflicts of interest.
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