Fusarium root disease can be a serious problem in forest and conservation nurseries in the western United States. Fusarium inoculum is commonly found in most container and bareroot nurseries on healthy and diseased seedlings, in nursery soils, and on conifer seeds. Fusarium spp. within the F. oxysporum species complex have been recognized as pathogens for more than a century, but attempts to distinguish virulence by correlating morphological characteristics with results of pathogenicity tests were unsuccessful. Recent molecular characterization and pathogenicity tests, however, revealed that selected isolates of F. oxysporum are benign on Douglas-fir (Pseudotsuga menziesii) seedlings. Other morphologically indistinguishable isolates, which can be virulent, were identified as F. commune, a recently described species. In a replicated greenhouse study, inoculating Douglas-fir seedlings with one isolate of F. oxysporum prevented expression of disease caused by a virulent isolate of F. commune. Moreover, seedling survival and growth was unaffected by the presence of the F. oxysporum isolate, and this isolate yielded better biological control than a commercial formulation of Bacillus subtilis. These results demonstrate that an isolate of nonpathogenic F. oxysporum can effectively reduce Fusarium root disease of Douglas-fir caused by F. commune under nursery settings, and this biological control approach has potential for further development.
Dumroese, R. Kasten; Kim, Mee-Sook; James, Robert L. 2012. Fusarium oxysporum protects Douglas-fir (Pseudotsuga menziesii) seedlings from root disease caused by Fusarium commune. Plant Pathology Journal. 28(3): 311-316.