Microbial factors associated with the natural suppression of take-all wheat in New Zealand

Author: Chng, Soon F.

Publisher: Lincoln University, Lincoln, Christchurch

Type: Thesis

Link to this item using this URL: https://hdl.handle.net/10182/863

Lincoln University


Take-all, caused by the soilborne fungus, Gaeumannomyces graminis var. tritici (Ggt), is an important root disease of wheat that can be reduced by take-all decline (TAD) in successive wheat crops, due to general and/or specific suppression. A study of 112 New Zealand wheat soils in 2003 had shown that Ggt DNA concentrations (analysed using real-time PCR) increased with successive years of wheat crops (1-3 y) and generally reflected take-all severity in subsequent crops. However, some wheat soils with high Ggt DNA concentrations had low take-all, suggesting presence of TAD. This study investigated 26 such soils for presence of TAD and possible suppressive mechanisms, and characterised the microorganisms from wheat roots and rhizosphere using polymerase chain reaction (PCR) and denaturing gradient gel electrophoresis (DGGE). A preliminary pot trial of 29 soils (including three from ryegrass fields) amended with 12.5% w/w Ggt inoculum, screened their suppressiveness against take-all in a growth chamber. Results indicated that the inoculum level was too high to detect the differences between soils and that the environmental conditions used were unsuitable. Comparison between the Ggt DNA concentrations of the same soils collected in 2003 and in 2004 (collected for the pot trial), showed that most soils cropped with 2, 3 and 4 y of successive wheat had reduced Ggt DNA concentrations (by 195-2911 pg g-1 soil), and their disease incidences revealed 11 of the 29 test soils with potential take-all suppressiveness. Further pot trials improved the protocols, such that they were able to differentiate the magnitudes of suppressiveness among the soils. The first of the subsequent trials, using 4% w/w Ggt inoculum level, controlled conditions at 16°C, 80% RH with alternate 12 h light/dark conditions, and watering the plants twice weekly to field capacity (FC), screened 13 soils for their suppressiveness against take-all. The 13 soils consisted of 11 from the preliminary trial, one wheat soil that had been cropped with 9 y of wheat (considered likely to be suppressive), and a conducive ryegrass soil. The results revealed that 10 of these soils were suppressive to take-all. However, in only four of them were the effects related to high levels of microbial/biological involvement in the suppression, which were assessed in an experiment that first sterilised the soils. In a repeat trial using five of the soils H1, H3, M2, P7 (previously cropped with 3, 3, 4 and 9 y successive wheat, respectively) and H15 (previously cropped with 5 y of ryegrass), three of them (H1, H3 and M2) had reduced Ggt DNA concentrations (>1000 pg g-1 soil reductions), and were confirmed to be suppressive to take-all. A pot trial, in which 1% of each soil was transferred into a γ-irradiated base soil amended with 0.1% Ggt inoculum, indicated that soils H1 and H3 (3 y wheat) were specific in their suppressiveness, and M2 (4 y wheat) was general in its suppressiveness. The microbial communities within the rhizosphere and roots of plants grown in the soils, which demonstrated conduciveness, specific or general suppressiveness to take-all, were characterised using PCR-DGGE, and identities of the distinguishing microorganisms (which differentiated the soils) identified by sequence analysis. Results showed similar clusters of microorganisms associated with conducive and suppressive soils, both for specific and general suppression. Further excision, re-amplification, cloning and sequencing of the distinguishing bands showed that some actinomycetes (Streptomyces bingchengensis, Terrabacter sp. and Nocardioides sp.), ascomycetes (Fusarium lateritium and Microdochium bolleyi) and an unidentified fungus, were associated with the suppressive soils (specific and general). Others, such as the proteobacteria (Pseudomonas putida and P. fluorescens), an actinomycete (Nocardioides oleivorans), ascomycete (Gibberella zeae), and basidiomycete (Penicillium allii), were unique in the specific suppressiveness. This indicated commonality of some microorganisms in the take-all suppressive soils, with a selected distinguishing group responsible for specific suppressiveness. General suppressiveness was considered to be due to no specific microorganisms, as seen in soil M2. An attempt to induce TAD by growing successive wheat crops in pots of Ggt-infested soils was unsuccessful with no TAD effects shown, possibly due to variable Ggt DNA concentrations in the soils and addition of nutrients during the experiment. Increasing numbers of Pseudomonas fluorescens CFU in the rhizosphere of plants, during successive wheat crops was independent of the Ggt DNA concentrations and disease incidence, suggesting that increases in P. fluorescens numbers were associated with wheat monoculture. This study has demonstrated that TAD in New Zealand was due to both specific and general suppressiveness, and has identified the distinguishing microorganisms associated with the suppression. Since most of these distinguishing microorganisms are known to show antagonistic activities against Ggt or other soilborne pathogens, they are likely to act as antagonists of Ggt in the field. Future work should focus on validating their effects either individually, or interactively, on Ggt in plate and pot assays and under field conditions.

Subjects: Gaeumannomyces graminis var. tritici, take-all, successive wheat, DNA, inoculum, suppressive soils, take-all decline, microbial populations, wheat

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