This study identified biocontrol measures for improving plant quality and resistance under biotic stress caused by the most devastating pathogen in tomato production. The management of plant diseases are dependent on a variety of factors. Two important variables are the soil quality and its bacterial/fungal community. However, the interaction of these factors is not well understood and remains problematic in producing healthy crops. Here, the effect of oak-bark compost, Bacillus subtilis subsp. subtilis, Trichoderma harzianum and two commercial products (FZB24 and FZB42) were investigated on tomato growth, production of metabolites and resistance under biotic stress condition (infection with Phytophthora infestans). Oak-bark compost, B. subtilis subsp. subtilis, and T. harzianum significantly enhanced plant growth and immunity when exposed to P. infestans. However, the commercial products were not as effective in promoting growth, with FZB42 having the weakest protection. Furthermore, elevated levels of anthocyanins did not correlate with enhanced plant resistance. Overall, the most effective and consistent plant protection was obtained when B. subtilis subsp. subtilis was combined with oak-bark compost. In contrast, the combination of T. harzianum and oak-bark compost resulted in increased disease severity. The use of compost in combination with bio-agents should, therefore, be evaluated carefully for a reliable and consistent tomato protection.
Keywords: Biocontrol; Phytophthora infestans; Plant resistance; Plant–microbe interactions; Secondary metabolites; Soil microbial community.