The influences of Gaeumannomyces graminis var. tritici (which causes take-all of wheat), Rhizoctonia solani AG-8 (which causes rhizoctonia root rot of wheat), Pythium irregulare, P. aristosporum, and P. ultimum var. sporangiiferum (which cause pythium root rot of wheat) on the population dynamics of Pseudomonas fluorescens 2-79 and Q72a-80 (bicontrol strains active against take-all and pythium root rot of wheat, respectively) in the wheat rhizosphere were examined. Root infection by either G. graminis var. tritici or R. solani resulted in populations of both bacterial strains that were equal to or significantly larger than their respective populations maintained on roots in the absence of these pathogens. In contrast, the population of strain 2-79 was significantly smaller on roots in the presence of any of the three Pythium species than on noninfected roots and was often below the limits of detection (50 CFU/cm of root) on Pythium-infected roots after 40 days of plant growth. In the presence of either P. aristosporum or P. ultimum var. sporangiiferum, the decline in the population of Q72a-80 was similar to that observed on noninfected roots; however, the population of this strain declined more rapidly on roots infected by P. irregulare than on noninfected roots. Application of metalaxyl (which is selectively inhibitory to Pythium spp.) to soil naturally infestated with Pythium spp. resulted in significantly larger rhizosphere populations of the introduced bacteria over time than on plants grown in the same soil without metalaxyl. It is apparent that root infections by fungal pathogens may either enhance or depress the population of fluorescent pseudomonads introduced for their control, with different strains of pseudomonads reacting differentially to different genera and species of the root pathogens
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