Deciphering the mechanism of fungal pathogen-induced disease-suppressive soil

New Phytol. 2023 Mar 17. doi: 10.1111/nph.18886. Online ahead of print.


One model of a disease-suppressive soil predicts that the confrontation of plant with a phytopathogen can lead to the recruitment and accumulation of beneficial microorganisms. However, more information is need to be deciphered regarding which beneficial microbes become enriched, and how the disease suppression is achieved. Here, we conditioned soil by continuously growing eight generations of cucumber inoculated with Fusarium oxysporum f.sp. cucumerinum in a split-root- system. Disease incidence was found to decrease gradually upon pathogen infection accompanied with higher quantity of reactive oxygen species (ROS mainly OH·) in roots and accumulation of Bacillus and Sphingomonas. These key microbes were proven to protect the cucumber from pathogen infection by inducing high ROS level in the roots through enrichment of pathways, including a two-component system, a bacterial secretion system and flagellar assembly revealed by metagenomics sequencing. Untargeted metabolomics analysis combined with in vitro application assays suggested that threonic acid and lysine were pivotal to recruit Bacillus and Sphingomonas. Collectively, our study deciphered a "cry for help" case wherein cucumber releases particular compounds to enrich beneficial microbes that raise the ROS level of host to prevent pathogen attack. More importantly, this may be one of the fundamental mechanisms underpinning disease-suppressive soil formation.

Keywords: Bacillus; Sphingomonas; disease-suppressive soil; reactive oxygen species; rhizosphere metabolites.