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Title: Exploiting nitrate respiration to optimise antagonistic control of root disease in soil
Author: Knox, Oliver Gimli Gunning
ISNI:       0000 0001 3601 2618
Awarding Body: University of Aberdeen
Current Institution: University of Aberdeen
Date of Award: 2000
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In soils of high matric potential, low oxygen conditions often develop that favour disease development by many soil-borne plant pathogens. The introduction of a third party, or biocontrol agent, to suppress disease development would require that the agent remains metabolically active under such conditions. In the rhizosphere, plant roots not only supply carbon as an electron donor but cause a localised lowering of oxygen concentrations, conditions favourable for nitrate respiration. The effect of the addition of nitrate on the activity of antagonistic strains of Bacillus subtilis, Pseudomonas fluorescens and P. corrugata was studied in vitro on agar plates, but no significant (P 0.05) quantitative effect was observed . A sealed plate method, using aerobic, anoxic, and anaerobic conditions with 0, 1, 2.5, 5, 10 and 100mM nitrate concentrations was investigated using the B. subtilis strains. This assay tested the activity of antifungal volatiles (AFV) produced by the bacteria. The results indicated that nitrate led to an increased AFV production and/or activity against fungal pathogens under anoxic conditions with nitrate at or above 10 mM. To investigate root colonisation and the establishment of biocontrol colonies in the rhizosphere, lux marking of the biocontrol bacterial strains was undertaken. The transformed bioluminescent B. subtilis strains lost the ability to antagonise the test fungi on agar plates. This loss of antagonism appeared to be due to luciferase utilising metabolites involved in antibiosis and producing a low, but significantly different (P ?0.05) from background and parental strains level of luminescence. The effects of nitrate on a soil based biocontrol system were studied in greenhouse trials. Unfortunately, disease failed to develop, and the effects of the addition of nitrate could not be assessed. The potential involvement of nitrate in maintaining certain biocontrol aspects under conditions that favour pathogen attack seems likely from in vitro based studies. The removal of the antagonistic phenotype, from lux marked B. subtilis strains, raised questions as to the suitability of luciferase for use in this system and highlighted the need for careful monitoring and screening of genetically modified organisms.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Biocontrol