Bio-organic fertilizers stimulate indigenous soil Pseudomonas populations to enhance plant disease suppression

Chengyuan Tao, Rong Li, Wu Xiong, Zongzhuan Shen, Shanshan Liu, Beibei Wang, Yunze Ruan, Stefan Geisen, Qirong Shen*, George A. Kowalchuk

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

186 Citations (Scopus)


Plant diseases caused by fungal pathogen result in a substantial economic impact on the global food and fruit industry. Application of organic fertilizers supplemented with biocontrol microorganisms (i.e. bioorganic fertilizers) has been shown to improve resistance against plant pathogens at least in part due to impacts on the structure and function of the resident soil microbiome. However, it remains unclear whether such improvements are driven by the specific action of microbial inoculants, microbial populations naturally resident to the organic fertilizer or the physical-chemical properties of the compost substrate. The aim of this study was to seek the ecological mechanisms involved in the disease suppressive activity of bio-organic fertilizers.
To disentangle the mechanism of bio-organic fertilizer action, we conducted an experiment tracking Fusarium wilt disease of banana and changes in soil microbial communities over three growth seasons in response to the following four treatments: bio-organic fertilizer (containing Bacillus amyloliquefaciens W19), organic fertilizer, sterilized organic fertilizer and sterilized organic fertilizer supplemented with B. amyloliquefaciens W19. We found that sterilized bioorganic fertilizer to which Bacillus was re-inoculated provided a similar degree of disease suppression as the non-sterilized bioorganic fertilizer across cropping seasons. We further observed that disease suppression in these treatments is linked to impacts on the resident soil microbial communities, specifically by leading to increases in specific Pseudomonas spp.. Observed correlations between Bacillus amendment and indigenous Pseudomonas spp. that might underlie pathogen suppression were further studied in laboratory and pot experiments. These studies revealed that specific bacterial taxa synergistically increase biofilm formation and likely acted as a plant-beneficial consortium against the pathogen.
Together we demonstrate that the action of bioorganic fertilizer is a product of the biocontrol inoculum within the organic amendment and its impact on the resident soil microbiome. This knowledge should help in the design of more efficient biofertilizers designed to promote soil function.
Original languageEnglish
Article number137
Publication statusPublished - 22 Sept 2020


  • Bio-organic fertilizer
  • Disease suppression
  • Fusarium wilt
  • Interspecific synergy
  • Pseudomonas spp.
  • Resident microbiota


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