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New insights into the supression of plant pathogenic fungus (Phytophthora cinnamomi) by compost leachates

Sidhu, J., Lee, N., Cord-Ruwisch, R. and Hardy, G. (2003) New insights into the supression of plant pathogenic fungus (Phytophthora cinnamomi) by compost leachates. In: ORBIT 2003 Organic Recovery and BIological Treatment Proceedings of the Fourth International Conference of ORBIT Association on Biological Processing of Organics: Advances for a Sustainable Society, 30 April - 2 May 2003, Perth, Western Australia

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Use of compost as a soil conditioner and low-grade fertiliser is gaining popularity worldwide (Epstein, 1997). Compost not only adds plant nutrients to the soil, but also improves physical properties of soil such as buffering capacity, cation exchange capacity and water holding capacity. In addition to these benefits, compost can also suppress plant diseases caused by Phytophthora cinnamomi (Hoitink et al., 1977), Pythium aphanidermatum (Mandelbaum and Hadar, 1990), Rhizoctonia solani and Sclerotium rolfoii (Gorodecki and Hadar, 1990).

Irwin et al., (1995) reported that the diseases caused by P. cinnamomi are directly responsible for considerable economic losses in many horticultural, ornamental and forestry industries throughout Australia. Phytophthora spp. continue to be the focus of attention of many researchers due to the diversity of P. cinnamomi-host interactions and their potential economic impact on a wide range of industries.

The practise of using methyl bromide and other chemicals for disinfection of soil is widespread (Trill as et al., 2002). However, the use of methyl bromide and other chemicals is phased out in the USA and Europe. The suppression of soil-borne plant fungus by composts produced from tree barks (Spencer et al., 1982) and municipal solid wastes is well documented (Trill as et al., 2002).

Composts that suppress plant disease have been extensively described and are used in greenhouse production systems (Lazarovitis et aI, 2001). However, most studies have focused on compo sting different types of materials and their effect on fungal pathogens inhibition rather than compo sting conditions that may produce suppressive composts. An objective of this study was to investigate the role of moisture, aeration and compost maturity in enhancing the inhibition effect of compost on the plant pathogen P. cinnamomi. A further objective was to generate an increased understanding of the mechanism of growth inhibition.

Item Type: Conference Paper
Murdoch Affiliation(s): Centre for Organic Waste Management
School of Biological Sciences and Biotechnology
Notes: In: Pullammanappallil, P., McComb, A., Diaz, L.F. and Bidlingmaier, W. (eds), ORBIT 2003 : organic recovery and biological treatment : proceedings of the fourth International Conference of ORBIT Association on biological processing of organics : advances for a sustainable society : 30 April-2 May 2003, Perth, Australia, pp 543-545.
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