Mechanism of Action and Efficacy of Seed Meal-Induced Pathogen Suppression Differ in a Brassicaceae Species and Time-Dependent Manner

The effect of seed meals derived from Brassica juncea, B. napus, or Sinapis alba on suppression of soilborne pathogens inciting replant disease of apple was evaluated in greenhouse trials. Regardless of plant source, seed meal amendment significantly improved apple growth in all orchard soils; however, relative differences in pathogen suppression were observed. All seed meals suppressed root infection by native Rhizoctonia spp. and an introduced isolate of Rhizoctonia solani AG-5, though B. juncea seed meal often generated a lower level of disease control relative to other seed meal types. When introduction of the pathogen was delayed until 4 to 8 weeks post seed meal amendment, disease suppression was associated with proliferation of resident Streptomyces spp. and not qualitative or quantitative attributes of seed meal glucosinolate content. Using the same experimental system, when soils were pasteurized prior to pathogen infestation, control of R. solani was eliminated regardless of seed meal type. In the case of B. juncea seed meal amendment, the mechanism of R. solani suppression varied in a temporal manner, which initially was associated with the generation of allylisothiocyanate and was not affected by soil pasteurization. Among those tested, only B. juncea seed meal did not stimulate orchard soil populations of Pythium spp. and infection of apple roots by these oomycetes. Although application of B. napus seed meal alone consistently induced an increase in Pythium spp. populations, no significant increase in Pythium spp. populations was observed in response to a composite B. juncea and B. napus seed meal amendment. Suppression of soil populations and root infestation by Pratylenchus spp. was dependent upon seed meal type, with only B. juncea providing sustained nematode control. Collectively, these studies suggest that use of a composite B. juncea and B. napus seed meal mixture can provide superior control of the pathogen complex inciting apple replant disease relative to either seed meal used alone.