First, second, and fourth authors: Department of Microbiology; and third author: Department of Agricultural Biology, Gyeongsang National University, Chinju 660-701, Korea
Two chitinolytic bacterial strains, Paenibacillus sp. 300 and Streptomyces sp. 385, suppressed Fusarium wilt of cucumber (Cucumis sativus) caused by Fusarium oxysporum f. sp. cucumerinum in nonsterile, soilless potting medium. A mixture of the two strains in a ratio of 1:1 or 4:1 gave significantly (P < 0.05) better control of the disease than each of the strains used individually or than mixtures in other ratios. Several formulations were tested, and a zeolite-based, chitosan-amended formulation (ZAC) provided the best protection against the disease. Dose-response studies indicated that the threshold dose of 6 g of formulation per kilogram of potting medium was required for significant (P < 0.001) suppression of the disease. This dose was optimum for maintaining high rhizosphere population densities of chitinolytic bacteria (log 8.1 to log 9.3 CFU/g dry weight of potting medium), which were required for the control of Fusarium wilt. The ZAC formulation was suppressive when added to pathogen-infested medium 15 days before planting cucumber seeds. The formulation also provided good control when stored for 6 months at room temperature or at 4°C. Chitinase and β-1,3-glucanase enzymes were produced when the strains were grown in the presence of colloidal chitin as the sole carbon source. Partial purification of the chitinases, followed by sodium dodecyl sulfate polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis and activity staining, revealed the presence of five bands with molecular masses of 65, 62, 59, 55, and 52 kDa in the case of Paenibacillus sp. 300; and three bands with molecular masses of 52, 38, and 33 kDa in the case of Streptomyces sp. 385. Incubation of cell walls of F. oxysporum f. sp. cucumerinum with partially purified enzyme fractions led to the release of N-acetyl-D-glucosamine (NAGA). NAGA content was considerably greater when pooled enzyme fractions (64 to 67) from Paenibacillus sp. were used, because they contained high β-1,3-glucanase activity in addition to chitinase activity. Suppression of Fusarium wilt of cucumber by a combination of these two bacteria may involve the action of these hydrolytic enzymes.