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ARS Home » Pacific West Area » Wenatchee, Washington » Physiology and Pathology of Tree Fruits Research » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #311425

Title: Brassica seed meal soil amendments transform the rhizosphere microbiome and improve apple production through resistance to pathogen reinfestation

item Mazzola, Mark
item HEWAVITHARANA, SHASHIKA - Washington State University
item Strauss, Sarah

Submitted to: Phytopathology
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 11/4/2014
Publication Date: 4/15/2015
Citation: Mazzola, M., Hewavitharana, S.S., Strauss, S.L. 2014. Brassica seed meal soil amendments transform the rhizosphere microbiome and improve apple production though resistance to pathogen reinfestation. Phytopathology. 105:460-469.

Interpretive Summary: Soil-borne disease management without chemical fumigants remains a major challenge for many crop production systems including tree fruits. Soil fumigation has been the primary means used for the control apple replant disease but impending modifications to existing regulations are likely to increase the cost of soil fumigation and/or restrict use of this disease control measure on certain sites. Brassicaceae seed meal amendments have been effective in controlling apple replant disease but require post-plant application of the fungicide mefenoxam. Therefore, a composite seed meal formulation was devised which included both yellow mustard (Brassica juncea) and white mustard (Sinapis alba) and examined for disease control in organic orchard systems. The composite seed meal formulation was as effective as soil fumigation in controlling replant disease and resulted in tree growth and yield that was equivalent to or greater than that attained in fumigated soils. The pre-plant seed meal amendment suppressed recolonization of orchard soils by multiple pathogens including parasitic lesion nematodes and root rot organisms such as Pythium spp. In contrast, fumigated soils were rapidly recolonized by both pathogens and trees were infested by these organisms resulting in lower yields than that attained in seed meal treated soil. Long-term suppression of plant pathogens in response to pre-plant seed meal soil amendment was associated with the persistence of a distinctive microbial community associated with apple roots, and included microorganisms known to parasitize nematodes and Pythium spp.. In contrast, the rapid re-colonization of fumigated soil by root pathogens was associated with the reversion of the soil microbial community to one that was indistinguishable from that of the no-treatment control. The difference in pathogen re-establishment corresponding with enhanced tree growth and yield in seed meal amended soils demonstrates that the beneficial effects of Brassicaceae SM amendment be persistent leading to enhanced orchard economic viability. These findings also demonstrate that pathogens such as lesion nematode and Pythium spp. not only suppress plant growth in newly established orchards but that they also have the ability to suppress productivity and economic vitality of established orchards.

Technical Abstract: Brassicaceae seed meal (SM) formulations were compared with pre-plant 1,3-dichloropropene/chloropicrin (Telone-C17®) soil fumigation for the ability to control apple replant disease and to suppress pathogen/parasite re-infestation of organic orchard soils at two sites in Washington State. Pre-plant soil fumigation and either a SM formulation consisting of either Brassica juncea/Sinapis alba or B. juncea/Brassica napus each provided similar levels of disease control during the initial growing season. Although tree growth was similar in fumigated and SM amended soil during the initial growing season, tree performance in terms of growth and yield was commonly superior in B. juncea/S. alba SM amended soil relative to that in fumigated soil at the end of four growing seasons. SM amended soils were resistant to re-infestation by Pratylenchus penetrans and Pythium spp. relative to fumigated soils and corresponded with enhanced tree performance. Phytotoxic symptoms were observed in response to SM amendment at one of two orchard sites and were dependent upon season of application and occurred in a SM formulation-specific manner. After two years, the rhizosphere microbiome in fumigated soils had reverted to one that was indistinguishable from the no-treatment control. In contrast, rhizosphere soils from the SM treatment possessed unique bacterial and fungal profiles, including specific microbial elements previously associated with suppression of plant pathogenic fungi, oomycetes and nematodes. Overall diversity of the microbiome was reduced in the SM treatment rhizosphere, suggesting that enhanced “biodiversity” was not instrumental in achieving system resistance and/or pathogen suppression.