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Oral: The Phytobiome: A New Frontier in Turfgrass Disease Management


Is organic golf course management a hole in one?: Using microbial analysis to evaluate the turf phytobiome under different management strategies
E. ALLAN-PERKINS (1), D. Manter (2), G. Jung (3) (1) University of Massachusetts, U.S.A.; (2) USDA ARS, U.S.A.; (3) University of Massachusetts Amherst, U.S.A.

Microbial communities of annual cropping systems are well-studied, however understanding of perennial turf phytobiomes, despite being the largest irrigated crop in the United States is in its infancy. There is increasing interest in more sustainable turf management practices to encourage beneficial microbial communities aimed at producing high quality turfgrass. Our objective was to determine differences in microbial communities under different management types, intensities, and seasons on golf courses. Soil and thatch samples were collected from an organic and a conventional course in two seasons for two years from all three management areas (roughs, fairways, and putting greens) to represent different management intensities. Bacterial and fungal communities were assessed by qPCR and 454 pyrosequencing of 16S and 18S rDNA. Species diversity, evenness, and family composition were compared and additionally metabolic profile was analyzed for the bacteria. Fungal abundance was lowest on all putting greens and bacteria that metabolize synthetic pesticide products were highest on the conventional course. Few turf pathogens were identified in the soil samples, however qPCR suggests the thatch may be a reserve area for these organisms. The results of this study provide insight into the turfgrass phytobiome of golf courses, which will help in developing alternative management practices for turf practitioners and directing more targeted research projects.