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J Appl Microbiol. 2001 Mar;90(3):421-9.

Biocontrol of Pythium in the pea rhizosphere by antifungal metabolite producing and non-producing Pseudomonas strains.

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School of Biological Sciences, University of Surrey, Guildford, UK.



Four well-described strains of Pseudomonas fluorescens were assessed for their effect on pea growth and their antagonistic activity against large Pythium ultimum inocula.


The effect of Pseudomonas strains on the indigenous soil microflora, soil enzyme activities and plant growth in the presence and absence of Pythium was assessed. Pythium inoculation reduced the shoot and root weights, root length, and the number of lateral roots. The effect of Pythium was reduced by the Pseudomonas strains. Strains F113, SBW25 and CHAO increased shoot weights (by 20%, 22% and 35%, respectively); strains Q2-87, SBW25 and CHAO increased root weights (14%, 14% and 52%). Strains SBW25 and CHAO increased root lengths (19% and 69%) and increased the number of lateral roots (14% and 29%). All the Pseudomonas strains reduced the number of lesions and the root and soil Pythium populations, while SBW25 and CHAO increased the number of lateral roots. Pythium inoculation increased root and soil microbial populations but the magnitude of this effect was Pseudomonas strain-specific. Pythium increased the activity of C, N and P cycle enzymes, while the Pseudomonas strains reduced this effect, indicating reduced plant damage.


Strains SBW25 and CHAO had the greatest beneficial characteristics, as these strains produced the greatest reductions in the side effects of Pythium infection (microbial populations and enzyme activities) and resulted in significantly improved plant growth. Strain SBW25 does not produce antifungal metabolites, and its biocontrol activity was related to a greater colonization ability in the rhizosphere.


This is the first critical comparison of such important strains of Ps. fluorescens showing disease biocontrol potential.

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