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Pythium aphanidermatum (Edson) Fitzp., causing root and crown rot in cucumber, was successfully managed by Lysobacter enzymogenes strain 3.1T8. Greenhouse experiments were performed with cucumber plants grown in rockwool blocks up to 5 weeks with a recirculated nutrient solution. Application of L. enzymogenes 3.1T8 in combination with chitosan (the deacetylated derivative of chitin) reduced the number of diseased plants by 50-100% in four independent experiments relative to the Pythium control. Application of chitosan or the bacterial inoculant alone was not effective. Washed bacterial cells plus chitosan inhibited Pythium-induced disease, but the supernatant without bacterial cells combined with chitosan was not effective. The most effective and convenient type of commercially available chitosan was selected. Chitosan disappeared from the hydroponic system within 24 h after application, which we attribute to enzyme expression of L enzymogenes 3.1T8 induced by the exposure to chitosan. Plate counts of the nutrient solution on a general bacterial medium showed the dominance of the inoculated strain, and an increased bacterial population growing on chitin and chitosan as single carbon source. The population density of L enzymogenes 3.1T8 on the cucumber roots was investigated with a strain specific real-time TaqMan PCR. Highest chitosan concentrations applied (0.1 and 0.03 g/plant) resulted in the highest numbers of L. enzymogenes 3.1T8 present on roots; i.e. 10(8)-10(9) cells/g root. Substantially higher numbers of bacterial cells were observed by scanning electron microscopy after application of chitosan; no morphological or other qualitative differences were found. The results indicate that addition of chitosan enhanced the biocontrol efficacy of L. enzymogenes 3.1T8; either chitosan serves as C- and N-source for the antagonist, induces antagonistic gene expression, or both.
Biological Control 03/2009; 48(3). DOI:10.1016/j.biocontrol.2008.11.006 · 1.87 Impact Factor