A mineral seed coating for control of seedling diseases of alfalfa suitable for organic production systems

Deborah A. Samac, Samuel Schraber, Stuart Barclay

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations

Abstract

Most alfalfa seed is treated with the fungicide mefenoxam (Apron XL) for control of soilborne seedling diseases caused by Phytophthora medicaginis and Pythium spp. However, Apron XL is not active against Aphanomyces euteiches, the causal agent of Aphanomyces root rot (ARR), an important component of the alfalfa seedling root rot complex. Moreover, Apron XL-treated seed cannot be used in organic production systems. A seed coating using aluminosilicate (natural zeolite) at a rate of 0.33 g of zeolite per gram of alfalfa seed was tested as an alfalfa seed treatment. Inoculated growth chamber trials were conducted to determine the percentage of seedlings protected from Phytophthora root rot (PRR) and ARR. The mineral seed coating resulted in significantly greater control of PRR, with a mean of 89% healthy seedlings (disease score of 1 or 2 on a 1-to-5 scale) compared with the Apron XL treatment, with a mean of 38% healthy seedlings, or the control treatment, with 15% healthy seedlings. The mineral seed coating also resulted in significantly greater protection against ARR, with 67%healthy seedlings compared with 3 and 2% healthy seedlingswith the Apron XL and control treatments, respectively. The coated seed were used for in vitro assays with Pythium ultimum and P. paroecandrum to test for protection from seed rot and damping off. The mineral seed coating resulted in a significantly greater percentage of healthy seedlings compared with the Apron XL and control treatments. In growth chamber assays with naturally infested field soils with a range of disease pressure, the mineral seed coating resulted in a similar or greater percentage of healthy plants than the Apron XL treatment. The mineral coating had no effect on in vitro growth of Sinorhizobium meliloti, and nodule numbers were similar on roots from mineral-coated and untreated seed. These experiments indicate that the zeolite seed coating is a promising means of controlling seedling diseases in alfalfa production systems.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)614-620
Number of pages7
JournalPlant disease
Volume99
Issue number5
DOIs
StatePublished - May 1 2015

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