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Title: The potential of Pseudomonas bacteria as biocontrol agents against multiple plant pathogens
Author: Clough, Sophie
ISNI:       0000 0005 0287 6978
Awarding Body: University of York
Current Institution: University of York
Date of Award: 2020
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Plant pathogenic bacterium Ralstonia solanacearum (the causative agent of bacterial wilt), and plant parasitic nematodes Globodera pallida (white potato cyst nematode) and Meloidogyne incognita (root-knot nematode) have devastating impacts on several economically important crops globally. While these pathogens are traditionally treated with agrochemicals, their use is in decline due to legal restrictions and harmful impacts on the environment. One environmentally-friendly alternative to agrochemicals could be biocontrol, which takes advantage of naturally occurring plant growth-promoting bacteria. While recent studies have shown promising results, there is no clear screening pipeline to identify and validate successful biocontrol strains with broad activity against multiple different pathogen species. This thesis establishes a screening method to identify effective Pseudomonas biocontrol agents to both bacterial and nematode pathogens using a combination of in vitro laboratory assays, comparative genomics, mass spectrometry and greenhouse experiments. It was found that Pseudomonas strains suppressed both pathogens, with strains CHA0, MVP1-4 and Pf-5 showing high activity. Several secondary metabolite clusters were identified and the suppressive role of DAPG, orfamides A and B and pyoluteorin antimicrobials were experimentally verified. Experimental evolution was used to show that R. solanacearum can evolve tolerance to Pseudomonas strains during prolonged exposure in vitro. However, further work is needed to test whether the evolution of tolerance could limit Pseudomonas biocontrol efficiency in the field. High nematode suppression by all Pseudomonas strains was observed in laboratory assays. Moreover, clear behavioural and developmental changes were observed in response to tested individual compounds. Despite clear nematode suppression observed in vitro, no protection by Pseudomonas was observed in greenhouse experiments. However, Pseudomonas strains reduced bacterial wilt disease incidence caused by one of the tested R. solanacearum strains in vivo. Despite promising in vitro results, more research is needed to translate Pseudomonas biocontrol potential into an agricultural context.
Supervisor: Friman, Ville ; Urwin, Peter Sponsor: White Rose Network
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available