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Predictive Factors for the Suppression of Fusarium Wilt of Tomato in Plant Growth Media

October 2004 , Volume 94 , Number  10
Pages  1,094 - 1,101

Celia Borrero , M. Isabel Trillas , José Ordovás , Julio C. Tello , and Manuel Avilés

First, third, and fifth authors: Department Ciencias Agroforestales, Universidad de Sevilla, Ctra. Utrera, Km. 1. 41013 Sevilla, Spain; second author: Department Biología Vegetal, Universitat de Barcelona, Avda Diagonal, 645, 08028 Barcelona, Spain; and fourth author: Department Producción Vegetal, Universidad de Almería, Ctra. Sacramento, s/n, 04120 La Cañada de San Urbano, Almería, Spain

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Accepted for publication 2 June 2004.

Fusarium wilts are economically important diseases for which there are no effective chemical control measures. However, biological control and fertility management are becoming efficient alternatives for controlling this disease. Growth media formulated with composts that are able to suppress Fusarium wilt of tomato provide a control system that integrates both strategies. The aim of this study was to predict Fusarium wilt suppression of growth media using abiotic and biotic variables. Grape marc compost was the most effective medium used to suppress Fusarium wilt. Cork compost was intermediate, and light peat and expanded vermiculite were the most conducive growth media. The growth media evaluated were in a pH range of 6.26 to 7.97. Both composts had high β-glucosidase activity. When pH and β-glucosidase activity were taken into account as predictive variables, more than 91% of the variation in severity of Fusarium wilt was explained. This relationship illustrates the effect of nutrient availability and the degree of microbiostasis, two key factors in this pathosystem. Microbial populations involved in suppressiveness were cellulolytic and oligotrophic actinomycetes, fungi, and the ratios cellulolytic actinomycetes/cellulolytic bacteria, oligotrophic bacteria/copiotrophic bacteria, and oligotrophic actinomycetes/oligotrophic bacteria. Based on community level physiological profiles, different community structures were evident among growth media evaluated.

Additional keywords: Fusarium oxysporum f. sp. lycopersici, Lycopersicon esculentum, microbial activity.

© 2004 The American Phytopathological Society