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Association of Cellulytic Enzyme Activities in Eucalyptus Mulches with Biological Control of Phytophthora cinnamomi

September 2001 , Volume 91 , Number  9
Pages  847 - 855

A. J. Downer , J. A. Menge , and E. Pond

First author: University of California, Cooperative Extension, 669 County Square Drive, Suite 100, Ventura 93003; and second and third authors: University of California, Department of Plant Pathology, Riverside 92521

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Accepted for publication 1 June 2001.

A series of samples were taken from mulched and unmulched trees starting at the surface of mulch or soil to a 15 cm soil depth, forming a vertical transect. Saprophytic fungi isolated from the soil samples on rose bengal medium and surveyed visually were most abundant in mulches and at the interface of mulch and soil (P < 0.05). Microbial activity as assayed by the hydrolysis of fluorescein diacetate was significantly greater in mulch layers than in soils. Cellulase and laminarinase enzyme activities were greatest in upper mulch layers and rapidly decreased in soil layers (P < 0.05). Enzyme activities against Phytophthora cinnamomi cell walls were significantly greater in mulch than in soil layers. When Phytophthora cinnamomi was incubated in situ at the various transect depths, it was most frequently lysed at the interface between soil and mulch (P < 0.001). Roots that grew in mulch layers were significantly less infected with Phytophthora cinnamomi than roots formed in soil layers. In mulched soil, roots were commonly formed at the mulch-soil interface where Phytophthora populations were reduced, whereas roots in unmulched soil were numerous at the 7.5 cm depth where Phytophthora cinnamomi was prevalent. Enzyme activities were significantly and positively correlated with each other, microbial activity, and saprophytic fungal populations, but significantly and negatively correlated with Phytophthora recovery.

© 2001 The American Phytopathological Society