Antonie van Leeuwenhoek

, Volume 81, Issue 1–4, pp 557–564 | Cite as

Mechanisms of natural soil suppressiveness to soilborne diseases

  • Mark Mazzola


Suppressive soils are characterized by a very low level of disease development even though a virulent pathogen and susceptible host are present. Biotic and abiotic elements of the soil environment contribute to suppressiveness, however most defined systems have identified biological elements as primary factors in disease suppression. Many soils possess similarities with regard to microorganisms involved in disease suppression, while other attributes are unique to specific pathogen-suppressive soil systems. The organisms operative in pathogen suppression do so via diverse mechanisms including competition for nutrients, antibiosis and induction of host resistance. Non-pathogenic Fusarium spp. and fluorescent Pseudomonas spp. play a critical role in naturally occurring soils that are suppressive to Fusarium wilt. Suppression of take-all of wheat, caused by Gaeumannomyces graminis var. tritici, is induced in soil after continuous wheat monoculture and is attributed, in part, to selection of fluorescent pseudomonads with capacity to produce the antibiotic 2,4-diacetylphloroglucinol. Cultivation of orchard soils with specific wheat varieties induces suppressiveness to Rhizoctonia root rot of apple caused by Rhizoctonia solani AG 5. Wheat cultivars that stimulate disease suppression enhance populations of specific fluorescent pseudomonad genotypes with antagonistic activity toward this pathogen. Methods that transform resident microbial communities in a manner which induces natural soil suppressiveness have potential as components of environmentally sustainable systems for management of soilborne plant pathogens.

apple replant disease Fusarium wilt Rhizoctonia suppressive soils take-all decline 


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Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 2002

Authors and Affiliations

  • Mark Mazzola
    • 1
  1. 1.Tree Fruit Research LaboratoryUSDA Agricultural Research ServiceWenatcheeUSA

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