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ARS Home » Pacific West Area » Wenatchee, Washington » Physiology and Pathology of Tree Fruits Research » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #348747

Research Project: Utilization of the Rhizosphere Microbiome and Host Genetics to Manage Soil-borne Diseases

Location: Physiology and Pathology of Tree Fruits Research

Title: Mobilizing the rhizosphere microbiome to enhance orchard system resilience

item Mazzola, Mark

Submitted to: Meeting Proceedings
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: 12/18/2017
Publication Date: 2/5/2018
Citation: Mazzola, M. 2018. Mobilizing the rhizosphere microbiome to enhance orchard system resilience. Meeting Proceedings. Available:

Interpretive Summary:

Technical Abstract: Soils possess a wealth of biological resources that can be harnessed for use in the optimization of plant performance in agroecosystems. Functional biological control outcomes, beyond those realized based upon introduction of synthetic microbiomes, have been documented in a variety of instances, and described in the varied characterizations of disease suppressive soils. These observations advocate for investment of resources in the exploitation of ecosystem processes as environmentally sound alternatives for the establishment of resilient cropping systems. Identification and implementation of strategies promoting the mobilization and assembly of rhizosphere microbiomes that provide protection against soil-borne pathogens may possesses advantages over the introduction of non-native biological control organisms as a disease management tactic. Although harnessing the potential of the microbiome indigenous to agricultural soils for disease suppression has long been a goal of the research community reaching that goal has been limited by multiple factors including an inability to effectively monitor the structure of the microbiome in a comprehensive fashion. New ‘omics’ technologies enable the characterization of consortia in natural systems and may provide the framework for the construction of microbiomes for disease control and system resilience. Directing assembly of such a microbiome may involve multiple strategies including use of the plant host as a driving force in determining the trajectory of successional processes or the application of specific organic amendments that actively select for microbial characteristics functional in direct or indirect pathogen suppression. In apple, and other high value cropping systems, significant input costs are applied to the production system in order to attain the establishment of an economically viable planting. In large part, these efforts are directed toward limiting the activity of soil-borne plant pathogens, including the application of broad-spectrum biocides such as soil fumigants. Such a tactic can resolve the initial potential for disease progression, but commonly results in an outcome that enables rapid indiscriminate recolonization of the soil system by plant pathogenic organisms. Attempts to foster a systems approach to manage disease in such cropping environments while promoting a microbiome capable to limiting pathogen re-invasion is the desired outcome of this program. The use of practices to alter the trajectory in microbiome evolution in orchard soils and the outcomes in terms of plant productivity as well as sustainability will be discussed.