Management of soil microbial communities to enhance populations of Fusarium graminearum-antagonists in soil

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Fusarium head blight (FHB), incited by Fusarium graminearum Schwabe is one of the most devastating diseases of wheat. Primary inoculum generated on crop residue is the driving force of FHB epidemics. Fusarium survival on crop residues is affected by soil microbial antagonists. The incorporation of green manures has been shown to increase the density and diversity of microbes in soils, particularly the density and the pathogen-inhibitory activity of specific bacteria and fungi. Evidence of increased streptomycete populations in soil as a response to green manure incorporation, and their negative effect on the survival of Fusarium oxysporum Schlechtendahl in soil, suggests their potential use to reduce the survival of related pathogens. There is, however, no precedent for the use of green manures to promote indigenous streptomycete populations to control FHB. This study investigated the use of green manures (sorghum-sudangrass hybrid [Sorghum bicolor (L.) Moench-S. bicolor (L.) Moench var. sudanense (Piper)] and common buckwheat [Fagopyrum esculentum (Moench)]) for reducing F. graminearum survival in association with wheat residues. Soil bacterial density, streptomycete density and the density and inhibitory activity of F. graminearum-antagonists were monitored from planting until 3 and 6 months following the incorporation of green manures in greenhouse and field experiments, respectively. The decomposition of wheat residues and survival of Fusarium in residues was also assessed. The use of green manures did not statistically impact the survival of F. graminearum in wheat residue. However, green manures promoted the development of higher densities and antagonistic abilities of F. graminearum-antagonists in soils. Additionally, streptomycete densities and F. graminearum-antagonist densities were significantly and positively correlated with reduced survival of Fusarium. The results of our study suggest that the use of green manures can enhance populations of indigenous soil microorganisms antagonistic to the survival of F. graminearum in wheat residue.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)53-69
Number of pages17
JournalPlant and Soil
Issue number1-2
StatePublished - Jan 2008

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Acknowledgements This project was partially funded by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), North Central Region (NCR) Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE) program, project GNC05-054. The authors wish to thank Kun Xiao, Jennifer Flor, Dale Johnson, Amber Lamoureux, C. Kent Evans, Bacilio Salas, Amar Elakkad, Karen Wennberg, and Mario Carrillo for their technical assistance in this research.


  • Antagonism
  • Biocontrol
  • Crop residues
  • Fusarium head blight
  • Green manures
  • Streptomycetes


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