Grains Research and Development

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Suppressive soils - traits and transferability

Helen Hayden and Claire Allan

Theme 3: Disease suppressive soils

Soils that are able to withstand or reduce the extent of crop damage from a soil-borne disease incursion are referred to as disease suppressive soils. These soils have been identified in all grain production regions.

Disease suppression has been attributed to a biological phenomenon because the effect can be removed with soil sterilisation or modified with management. All soils are therefore believed to have the potential to be suppressive and soil management can regulate this potential.

This theme is funding projects that address the significant knowledge gaps associated with the identification and transferability of biological traits associated with suppressive soils. This theme will focus on projects that address the following questions/issues:

• Does disease suppressiveness have biogeography? What are the physical, chemical and biological features of disease suppressive soils? Are these features common across regions or are they region specific? Is suppression a temporal phenomenon?
• Is disease suppressiveness pathogen-specific or more generalised? Can we use the disease complex to identify the suppressiveness complex?
• Can a disease suppressiveness index be developed based upon a genetic signature of the soil community?
• How can the crop-soil physical and chemical system be managed to enhance disease suppressiveness?

Theme 3 projects include:

• Biological suppression of root-lesion nematodes in grain-growing soils (GRDC project code DAQ00164)
• A molecular approach to unravel the dynamics of disease suppressive microbial communities (CSP00135)
• Suppressive soils – can we find a microbial fingerprint using ‘omics’ technology? (DAV00105)
• Harnessing the biological potential of our soils (DAFWA)


Related Articles

Seeking suppressive soil signatures (Ground Cover Issue 96 Supplement)
Disease suppression is the ability of the soil to curb disease incidence or severity even in the presence of the pathogen, host plant and favourable environmental conditions. It is an attractive option for reducing productivity losses in grain crops.

Natural attack on RLN (Ground Cover Issue 96 Supplement)
Some soils in the northern grainbelt have been shown to exhibit a degree of suppression against root lesion nematodes (RLN). This project will provide a better understand the suppressive nature of grain-growing soils to root-lesion nematodes.


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