North Florida Research and Education Center, University of Florida, 155 Research Road, Quincy 32351
Plant Pathology Department, 2253 Fifield Hall, University of Florida, Gainesville 323611
Greenhouse experiments were conducted to determine the effectiveness of plant essential oils as soil fumigants to manage bacterial wilt (caused by Ralstonia solanacearum) in tomato. Potting mixture (“soil”) infested with R. solanacearum was treated with the essential oils at 400 mg or μl and 700 mg or μl per liter of soil in greenhouse experiments. R. solanacearum population densities were determined just before and 7 days after treatment. Populations declined to undetectable levels in thymol, palmarosa oil, and lemongrass oil treatments at both concentrations, whereas tea tree oil had no effect. Tomato seedlings transplanted in soil treated with 700 mg/liter of thymol, 700 ml/liter of palmarosa oil, and 700 ml/liter of lemongrass oil were free from bacterial wilt and 100% of plants in thymol treatments were free of R. solanacearum. Soil amendment with fresh leaves of essential oil-producing plants did not reduce bacterial wilt incidence compare to untreated inoculated control. Some thyme oil-producing plants such as thyme (Thymus vulgaris) cv. German winter, Creeping thyme (Thymus serpyllum), and Greek oregano (Origanum vulgare subsp. hirtum), while remaining symptomless, became systemically infected by R. solanacearum and were therefore identified as hosts of R. solanacearum.