First and fourth authors: Department of Plant Pathology, North Carolina State University, Raleigh 27695; and second and third authors: Department of Soil Science, North Carolina State University, Raleigh 27695
Aluminum (Al) is toxic to many plant pathogens, including Thielaviopsis basicola and Phytophthora parasitica var. nicotianae. Because fungi-toxicity of Al has been described in soils over a wide pH range, multiple species of Al may be responsible for pathogen suppression. The goals of this work were to determine the sensitivity of T. basicola and P. para-sitica var. nicotianae to Al over a range of pH values, quantify the toxicity of monomeric Al species to production of sporangia of P. parasitica var. nicotianae and chlamydospores of T. basicola, and detect the accumulation of Al in pathogen structures. A complete factorial treatment design was used with Al levels ranging from 0 to 100 μM and pH levels ranging from 4 to 6 in a minimal salts medium. The chemistry of test solutions was modeled using GEOCHEM-PC. Colonies were grown in 5% carrot broth, and after 1 or 2 days, the nutrient solution was removed, colonies were rinsed with water, and Al test solutions were added to each of four replicate plates. After 2 days, propagules were counted and colonies were stained with the Al-specific, fluorescent stain lumogallion. The oomycete P. parasitica var. nicotianae was sensitive to multiple monomeric Al species, whereas sensitivity of T. basicola to Al was pH-dependent, suggesting that only Al3+ is responsible for suppression of this fungal pathogen. Chlamydospore production by T. basicola was inhibited at pH values <5.0 and Al levels >20 μM, whereas sporangia production by P. parasitica was inhibited at Al levels as low as 2 μM across all pH values tested. The lumogallion stain was an effective technique for detection of Al in fungal tissues. Aluminum accumulated in sporangia and zoospores of P. parasitica var. nicotianae and in nonmelanized chlamy-dospores of T. basicola, but not in cell walls of either organism. The differential sensitivity of the two organisms may indicate that true fungi respond differently to Al than members of the oomycota, which are more closely related to plants.