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Research article - Peer-reviewed, 2020

Disease suppressive soils vary in resilience to stress

Doering, Thomas F.; Rosslenobrich, Dagmar; Giese, Christian; Athmann, Miriam; Watson, Christine; Vago, Imre; Katai, Janos; Tallai, Magdolna; Bruns, Christian


Soil-borne plant diseases are a major source of crop losses. Biologically active soils have the ability to suppress pathogenic infections of plants, but little is known how this essential soil function might be affected by abiotic stresses. Using a model system with pea and its fungal pathogen Pythium ultimum we studied how the suppressiveness of different soils from a wide geographic range responds to combined heat and drought stress. We found that different soils strongly differ in their ability to suppress diseases and that a stress event of combined heat (40 degrees C) and drought (-50% moisture) can strongly reduce this disease suppressiveness. Further, the response of suppressiveness to the stress depended on the provenance of the soil. Soils from a cool-climate site in Scotland were much more negatively affected than soils from warmer sites in Germany and Hungary. After being exposed to stress, one soil was able to regain suppressiveness after several weeks while the others were not, thereby collectively showing different degrees of resilience to the stress. Stress tolerance was negatively related to resilience. Our results suggest that microbial communities responsible for suppressiveness are adapted to prevailing climate, which has potentially severe consequences for the impact of climate change upon plant health.


Legumes; Pythium ultimum; Resilience; Soil-borne diseases; Stress; Suppressiveness

Published in

Applied Soil Ecology
2020, volume: 149, article number: 103482
Publisher: ELSEVIER

Authors' information

Doering, Thomas F.
Humboldt University of Berlin
Doering, Thomas F.
University of Bonn
Rosslenobrich, Dagmar
Universitat Kassel
Giese, Christian
University of Bonn
Athmann, Miriam
University of Bonn
Scotland's Rural College (SRUC)
Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Department of Crop Production Ecology
Vago, Imre
University of Debrecen
Katai, Janos
University of Debrecen
Tallai, Magdolna
University of Debrecen
Bruns, Christian
Universitat Kassel

Sustainable Development Goals

SDG13 Climate action

UKÄ Subject classification

Soil Science

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