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Article << Previous     |     Next >>   Contents Vol 44(6)

Root growth altered by compaction of a sandy loam soil affects severity of rhizoctonia root rot of wheat seedlings

J. S. Gill, S. Hunt, K. Sivasithamparam and K. R. J. Smettem

Australian Journal of Experimental Agriculture 44(6) 595 - 599
Published: 29 June 2004


Rhizoctonia solani Anastomosis Group 8 damages seedling roots of wheat, causing the 'bare-patch' disease. This makes the first 4 weeks after germination the most critical period for disease development. As the field inoculum of the pathogen is mainly concentrated in the surface 10 cm of soil, the rate of root growth becomes critical for the vulnerable tissues of the root to escape the attack from the inoculum zone. To evaluate the effect of alteration of root growth by soil compaction on disease severity, a study was undertaken in 40-cm-deep pots made from PVC pipes (8.7 cm diameter). Four depths of soil compaction (whole soil profile compacted, whole soil loose, upper 10 cm loose and compacted below, upper 20 cm loose and compacted below) were tested using sieved soil. Effective root length of infected seedlings was higher in the pots where the whole soil profile was compacted than others. Reduction in dry root weights, where soil was compacted to heights of 0, 17.5, 27.5 or 37.5 cm following inoculation, were 68, 30, 74 and 56%, respectively. Reduction in shoot weights was 52, 22, 66 and 44%, respectively. Eight days after incubation, microbial activity was greater where the soil was highly compacted than where there was a low level of soil compaction. Saprophytic growth in soil of Rhizoctonia solani Anastomosis Group 8 was higher in loosely packed soil than in compacted soil. This shows that higher impact of disease under compacted soil conditions is due to reduced root growth and that disturbing the soil below seeds can reduce the impact of disease.

Full text doi:10.1071/EA02093

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