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Annu Rev Phytopathol. 2004;42:35-59.

Assessment and management of soil microbial community structure for disease suppression.

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USDA-ARS Tree Fruit Research Laboratory, Wenatchee, Washington 98801, USA.


Identification of the biological properties contributing to the function of suppressive soils is a necessary first step to the management of such systems for use in the control of soilborne diseases. The development and application of molecular methods for the characterization and monitoring of soil microbial properties will enable a more rapid and detailed assessment of the biological nature of soil suppressiveness. Although suppressive soils have provided a wealth of microbial resources that have subsequently been applied for the biological control of soilborne plant pathogens, the full functional capabilities of the phenomena have not been realized in production agricultural ecosystems. Cultural practices, such as the application of soil amendments, have the capacity to enhance disease suppression, though the biological modes of action may vary from that initially resident to the soil. Plants have a distinct impact on characteristics and activity of resident soil microbial communities, and therefore play an important role in determining the development of the disease-suppressive state. Likewise, plant genotype will modulate these same biological communities, and should be considered when developing strategies to exploit the potential of such a natural disease control system. Implementation of consistently effective practices to manage this resource in an economically and environmentally feasible manner will require more detailed investigation of these biologically complex systems and refinement of currently available methodologies.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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