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Bacillus sp. L324-92 for Biological Control of Three Root Diseases of Wheat Grown with Reduced Tillage

May 1997 , Volume 87 , Number  5
Pages  551 - 558

Dal-Soo Kim , R. James Cook , and David M. Weller

First author: Department of Plant Pathology, Washington State University, Pullman 99164-6430; and second and third authors: Agricultural Research Service, U.S. Department of Agriculture, Pullman, WA 99164-6430

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Accepted for publication 7 February 1997.

Strain L324-92 is a novel Bacillus sp. with biological activity against three root diseases of wheat, namely take-all caused by Gaeumannomyces graminis var. tritici, Rhizoctonia root rot caused by Rhizoctonia solani AG8, and Pythium root rot caused mainly by Pythium irregulare and P. ultimum, that exhibits broad-spectrum inhibitory activity and grows at temperatures from 4 to 40°C. These three root diseases are major yieldlimiting factors for wheat in the U.S. Inland Pacific Northwest, especially wheat direct-drilled into the residue of a previous cereal crop. Strain L324-92 was selected from among approximately 2,000 rhizosphere/rhizoplane isolates of Bacillus species isolated from roots of wheat collected from two eastern Washington wheat fields that had long histories of wheat. Roots were washed, heat-treated (80°C for 30 min), macerated, and dilution-plated on 1/10-strength tryptic soy agar. Strain L324-92 inhibited all isolates of G. graminis var. tritici, Rhizoctonia species and anastomosis groups, and Pythium species tested on agar at 15°C; provided significant suppression of all three root diseases at 15°C in growth chamber assays; controlled either Rhizoctonia root rot, takeall, or both; and increased yields in field tests in which one or more of the three root diseases of wheats were yield-limiting factors. The ability of L324-92 to grow at 4°C probably contributes to its biocontrol activity on direct-drilled winter and spring wheat because, under Inland Northwest conditions, leaving harvest residues of the previous crop on the soil surface keeps soils cooler compared with tilled soils. These results suggest that Bacillus species with desired traits for biological control of wheat root diseases are present within the community of wheat rhizosphere microorganisms and can be recovered by protocols developed earlier for isolation of fluorescent Pseudomonas species effective against take-all.

Additional keywords: conservation tillage, plant growth-promoting rhizobacteria, soilborne pathogens, Triticum aestivum.

The American Phytopathological Society, 1997