First and third authors: Laboratory of Plant Disease and Biocontrol, and second author: Division of Environmental Science and Ecological Engineering, College of Life Sciences and Biotechnology, Korea University, Seoul 136-713, Republic of Korea.
We investigated the effects of water extracts of composts (CWE) from commercial compost facilities for controlling root and foliar infection of pepper plants by Phytophthora capsici. Among 47 CWE tested, CWE from composts Iljuk-3, Iljuk-7, Shinong-8, and Shinong-9 significantly (P < 0.05) inhibited zoospore germination, germ tube elongation, mycelial growth, and population of P. capsici. All selected CWE significantly (P < 0.05) reduced the disease incidence and severity in the seedling and plant assays compared with the controls. However, there were no significant differences in zoospore germination, disease incidence, and disease severity between treatments of untreated, autoclaved, and filtered CWE. In addition, CWE significantly (P < 0.05) suppressed leaf infection of P. capsici through induced systemic resistance (ISR) in plants root-drenched with CWE. The tested CWE enhanced the expression of the pathogenesis-related genes, CABPR1, CABGLU, CAChi2, CaPR-4, CAPO1, or CaPR-10 as well as β-1,3-glucanase, chitinase, and peroxidase activities, which resulted in enhanced plant defense against P. capsici in pepper plants. Moreover, the CWE enhanced the chemical and structural defenses of the plants, including H2O2 generation in the leaves and lignin accumulation in the stems. The CWE could also suppress other fungal pathogens (Colletotrichum coccodes in pepper leaves and C. orbiculare in cucumber leaves) through ISR; however, it failed to inhibit other bacterial pathogens (Xanthomonas campestris pv. vesicatoria in pepper leaves and Pseudomonas syringae pv. lachrymans in cucumber leaves). These results suggest that a heat-stable chemical(s) in the CWE can suppress root and foliar infection by P. capsici in pepper plants. In addition, these suppressions might result from direct inhibition of development and population of P. capsici for root infection, as well as indirect inhibition of foliar infection through ISR with broad-spectrum protection.