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Role of the Shrub Tamarix nilotica in Dissemination of Fusarium oxysporum f. sp. radicis-lycopersici

July 2001 , Volume 85 , Number  7
Pages  735 - 739

Y. Rekah , Department of Plant Pathology and Microbiology, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Faculty of Agricultural, Food, and Environmental Quality Sciences, Rehovot 76100, Israel ; D. Shtienberg , Department of Plant Pathology, ARO, The Volcani Center, Bet Dagan 50250, Israel ; and J. Katan , Department of Plant Pathology and Microbiology, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem

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Accepted for publication 16 March 2001.

The saltcedar shrub Tamarix nilotica grows as a weed in the Arava region of Israel. This weed is commonly found in cultivated fields naturally infested with Fusarium oxysporum f. sp. radicis-lycopersici, the causal agent of tomato crown and root rot. Young bushes, 20 to 40 cm tall, were randomly uprooted from different fields. The roots were cut into segments which were placed on Fusarium-selective medium. Although the plants did not show any symptoms of disease, the roots of the shrub were colonized by the pathogen. The incidence of infected saltcedar plants and level of root colonization by F. oxysporum f. sp. radicis-lycopersici decreased with increasing distance of the sampling location from a tomato field infected with crown and root rot. F. oxysporum f. sp. radicis-lycopersici was also isolated from chaff of inflorescence samples taken from mature T. nilotica shrubs. Identity of the pathogen isolates obtained from T. nilotica roots and chaff samples was verified by pathogenicity and vegetative compatibility tests. Roots of T. nilotica plants sown under greenhouse conditions in soil naturally infested with F. oxysporum f. sp. radicis-lycopersici became colonized by the pathogen. Uprooting and removing saltcedar plants throughout the season from fields not cultivated with tomatoes lowered the inoculum density of F. oxysporum f. sp. radicis-lycopersici in the soil from 611 to 6 and from 176 to 10 CFU/g of soil in the 1998-99 and 1999-2000 growing seasons, respectively. These results demonstrate that T. nilotica may contribute to the buildup of the pathogen populations in the absence of a susceptible host. Colonization of saltcedar by F. oxysporum f. sp. radicis-lycopersici is an additional mechanism for survival of this pathogen in the fields and for dissemination through the spread of infested seed or chaff of T. nilotica.

Additional keywords: nonsusceptible host, susceptible host, symptomless carrier

© 2001 The American Phytopathological Society