Institute of Biology, Section of Phytopathology, Utrecht University, Utrecht, the Netherlands
Biological control of soilborne plant pathogens in the field has given variable results. By combining specific strains of microorganisms, multiple traits antagonizing the pathogen can be combined and this may result in a higher level of protection. Pseudomonas putida WCS358 suppresses Fusarium wilt of radish by effectively competing for iron through the production of its pseudobactin siderophore. However, in some bioassays pseudobactin-negative mutants of WCS358 also suppressed disease to the same extent as WCS358, suggesting that an, as yet unknown, additional mechanism may be operative in this strain. P. putida strain RE8 induced systemic resistance against fusarium wilt. When WCS358 and RE8 were mixed through soil together, disease suppression was significantly enhanced to approximately 50% as compared to the 30% reduction for the single strain treatments. Moreover, when one strain failed to suppress disease in the single application, the combination still resulted in disease control. The enhanced disease suppression by the combination of P. putida strains WCS358 and RE8 is most likely the result of the combination of their different disease-suppressive mechanisms. These results demonstrate that combining biocontrol strains can lead to more effective, or at least, more reliable biocontrol of fusarium wilt of radish.