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Composted Municipal Waste Reduces Infection of Citrus Seedlings by Phytophthora nicotianae

June 1998 , Volume 82 , Number  6
Pages  683 - 688

T. L. Widmer , Former Graduate Assistant, Department of Plant Pathology, University of Florida, IFAS, Gainesville 32611 ; J. H. Graham , Professor, Citrus Research and Education Center, University of Florida, Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, 700 Experiment Station Road, Lake Alfred 33850 ; and D. J. Mitchell , Professor, Department of Plant Pathology, University of Florida, IFAS, Gainesville 32611

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Accepted for publication 12 March 1998.

Most citrus nurseries and orchards in Florida are infested with Phytophthora nicotianae, the causal agent of Phytophthora root rot. Although fungicides control the disease and increase seedling growth and tree yields, they are not always economically or environmentally sustainable. Amendment of citrus soils with composted municipal waste (CMW) may provide an alternative to fungicides for disease management. Citrus seedling growth decreased with increasing proportions of one CMW source, indicating the potential for phytotoxicity from soluble salts and acetic acid when the proportion of CMW in soil exceeded 20% (vol/vol). When a citrus soil was amended (20% vol/vol) with certain sources of CMW, the incidence of infection of 5-week-old susceptible citrus seedlings by P. nicotianae was reduced from 95% to as low as 5%. Addition of fresh CMW to two different citrus soils reduced colony growth of P. nicotianae after the fungus was incubated in the amended soil for 6 days and then recovered on PARPH selective medium. If CMW was stored for more than 3 months before amendment, the soil mixtures did not suppress colony development. In general, extracts of fresh CMW reduced mycelial growth in vitro; whereas suppressiveness of CMW from the same batch was lost after storage. Acetic acid was detected at higher concentration in fresh CMW that suppressed colony growth than in CMW that lacked activity. A species of Acremonium was isolated from another source of CMW that was suppressive to P. nicotianae. This fungus parasitized hyphae of P. nicotianae in vitro. Thus, CMWs have the potential to at least temporarily suppress P. nicotianae through chemical and microbial agents depending on source and age of the CMW.

© 1998 The American Phytopathological Society