Rhizosphere Competence and Biocontrol Effect of Pseudomonas sp. RU47 Independent from Plant Species and Soil Type at the Field Scale
Biocontrol inoculants often show inconsistency in their efficacy at field scale and the reason for this remains often unclear. A high rhizosphere competence of inoculant strains is assumed to be a key factor for successful biocontrol effects as the biocontrol strain has to compete with the indigenous microbial community in the rhizosphere. It is known that many factors, among them plant species and soil type shape the rhizosphere microbial community composition. However, microbial community composition in the rhizosphere can also be influenced by the presence of a pathogen. We hypothesized that plant species, soil type, and a pathogen affect the rhizosphere competence of a biocontrol strain and its biocontrol effect against a soil-borne pathogen. To test the hypothesis, we used an experimental plot system with three soil types (diluvial sand, alluvial loam, loess loam) kept under similar agricultural management at the same field site for 12 years. We investigate the rhizosphere competence of Pseudomonas sp. RU47 in two plant species (potato and lettuce) and its biocontrol effect against Rhizoctonia diseases. The colonization density of a rifampicin resistant mutant of RU47 in the rhizosphere of both crops was evaluated by plate counts. Bacterial community compositions were analyzed by denaturing gradient gel electrophoresis (DGGE) of 16S rRNA gene fragments amplified from total community DNA. The inoculant RU47 was able to colonize the rhizosphere of both model crops in a sufficient density and to reduce disease severity of black scurf on potato and bottom rot on lettuce in all three soils. DGGE indicated that RU47 affected the bacterial community composition stronger in the rhizosphere of lettuce than in the potato rhizosphere. In contrast, the effect of the pathogen Rhizoctonia solani on the bacterial community was much stronger in the rhizosphere of potato than in the lettuce rhizosphere. A significant effect of RU47 on the Pseudomonas-specific gacA fingerprints of the rhizosphere was only observed in lettuce in alluvial soil. The soil type and plant species independent biocontrol effects of RU47 and its minor influence on the indigenous bacterial community composition might be important criteria for the registration and use of RU47 as biocontrol strain.