Department of Environmental Science, Policy and Management, University of California, Berkeley 94720-3112
The associations of Pythium oligandrum with the root cortex, rhizoplane, and rhizosphere were measured with 11 crop species. This work was expedited by the use of a semiselective technique for isolation of P. oligandrum from soil and plant material. Cortical colonization of roots by P. oligandrum was not detected, and the rhizoplanes of the roots of most crops were free of the fungus. However, P. oligandrum was detected in large quantities with every crop tested when roots with adhering soil (rhizosphere soil) were assayed. Different crop species and cultivars of cantaloupe, cauliflower, and tomato varied in rhizosphere densities of P. oligandrum, but rhizosphere population densities of the fungus were consistently higher than in nonrhizosphere soils with plants grown in P. oligandrum-infested sterilized potting mix or an unsterilized mineral soil. After transplanting tomatoes into potting mix infested with P. oligandrum, increases in CFU occurred over time in the rhizosphere but not in the nonrhizosphere soil. In trials on delivery methods of inoculum of P. oligandrum, the rhizosphere populations of tomato plants grown in potting mix were about sixfold higher compared to seed-coat treatments when ground, alginate pelleted oospores were applied to seedlings growing in plug containers prior to transplanting or to pots containing potting mix before direct seeding.