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Comparison of an in vitro and a damping-off assay to test soils for suppressiveness to Pythium aphanidermatum

TitleComparison of an in vitro and a damping-off assay to test soils for suppressiveness to Pythium aphanidermatum
Publication TypeJournal Article
AuthorsGrünwald, NJ, Workneh, F, Hu, S, van Bruggen, AHC
JournalEuropean Journal of Plant Pathology
Date PublishedJan
cellophane, conduciveness, conventional, corky root, cover crops, damping-off, extraction method, farms, lycopersicon esculentum, microbial activity, organic, plant-disease, receptivity, root-rot, severity, systems, tomato, tomatoes

Testing of soil samples in greenhouse assays for suppressiveness to soilborne plant pathogens requires a considerable investment in time and effort as well as large numbers of soil samples. To make it possible to process large numbers of samples efficiently, we compared an in vitro growth assay with a damping-off assay using Pythium aphanidermatum as the test organism on tomato seedlings. The in vitro test compares the radial growth or relative growth of the fungus in soil to that in autoclaved soil and reflects suppressiveness of soils to the pathogen. We used soils from a field experiment that had been farmed either organically or conventionally and into which a cover crop (oats and vetch in mixture) had been incorporated 0, 10, 21, and 35 days previously. We obtained a significant, positive correlation between damping-off severities of tomato seedlings in damping-off assays and both relative and radial growth in vitro. In addition, radial and relative growth of P. aphanidermatum in the in vitro assay were positively correlated with several carbon and nitrogen variables measured for soil and incorporated debris. We did not find differences between the two farming systems for either growth measures of P. aphanidermatum or disease severities on tomato at different stages of cover crop decomposition. The in vitro assay shows potential for use with any fungus that exhibits rapid saprophytic growth, and is most suitable for routine application in suppressiveness testing.

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