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Compost and Compost Water Extract-Induced Systemic Acquired Resistance in Cucumber and Arabidopsis

May 1998 , Volume 88 , Number  5
Pages  450 - 455

W. Zhang , D. Y. Han , W. A. Dick , K. R. Davis , and H. A. J. Hoitink

First and third authors: School of Natural Resources; second and fifth authors: Department of Plant Pathology, The Ohio State University, Wooster 44691; fourth author: Department of Plant Biology and Plant Biotechnology Center, The Ohio State University, 1060 Carmack Road, Columbus 43210

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Accepted for publication 11 February 1998.

A biocontrol agent-fortified compost mix, suppressive to several diseases caused by soilborne plant pathogens, induced systemic acquired resistance (SAR) in cucumber against anthracnose caused by Colletotrichum orbiculare and in Arabidopsis against bacterial speck caused by Pseudomonas syringae pv. maculicola KD4326. A peat mix conducive to soilborne diseases did not induce SAR. The population size of P. syringae pv. maculicola KD4326 was significantly lower in leaves of Arabidopsis plants grown in the compost mix compared to those grown in the peat mix. Autoclaving destroyed the SAR-inducing effect of the compost mix, and inoculation of the autoclaved mix with nonautoclaved compost mix or Pantoea agglomerans 278A restored the effect, suggesting the SAR-inducing activity of the compost mix was biological in nature. Topical sprays with water extract prepared from the compost mix reduced symptoms of bacterial speck and the population size of pathogenic KD4326 in Arabidopsis grown in the peat mix but not in the compost mix. The peat mix water extract applied as a spray did not control bacterial speck on plants grown in either mix. Topical sprays with salicylic acid (SA) reduced the severity of bacterial speck on plants in the peat mix but did not further reduce the severity of symptoms on plants in the compost mix. The activity of the compost water extract was heat-stable and passed through a 0.2-μm membrane filter. β-1,3-Glucanase activity was low in cucumber plants grown in either mix, but when infected with C. orbiculare, this activity was induced to significantly higher levels in plants grown in the compost mix than in plants grown in the peat mix. Similar results were obtained for β-D-glucuronidase (GUS) activity driven by a PR2 (β-1,3-glucanase) gene promoter in transgenic Arabidopsis plants grown in the compost or peat mix. GUS activity was induced with topical sprays of the compost water extract or SA in plants not inoculated with the pathogen, suggesting that compost-induced disease suppression more than likely involved the potentiation of resistance responses rather than their activation and that compost-induced SAR differed from SAR induced by pathogens, SA, or compost water extract.

Additional keywords: compost-amended potting mix .

© 1998 The American Phytopathological Society