• Rhizoctonia solani;
  • antagonists;
  • SSCP;
  • lettuce


The aim of this study was to assess the biocontrol efficacy against Rhizoctonia solani of three bacterial antagonists introduced into naturally Rhizoctonia-infested lettuce fields and to analyse their impact on the indigenous plant-associated bacteria and fungi. Lettuce seedlings were inoculated with bacterial suspensions of two endophytic strains, Serratia plymuthica 3Re4-18 and Pseudomonas trivialis 3Re2-7, and with the rhizobacterium Pseudomonas fluorescens L13-6-12 7 days before and 5 days after planting in the field. Similar statistically significant biocontrol effects were observed for all applied bacterial antagonists compared with the uninoculated control. Single-strand conformation polymorphism analysis of 16S rRNA gene or ITS1 fragments revealed a highly diverse rhizosphere and a less diverse endophytic microbial community for lettuce. Representatives of several bacterial (Alpha-, Beta- and Gammaproteobacteria, Firmicutes, Bacteriodetes), fungal (Ascomycetes, Basidiomycetes) and protist (Oomycetes) groups were present inside or on lettuce plants. Surprisingly, given that lettuce is a vegetable that is eaten raw, species of genera such as Flavobacterium, Burkholderia, Staphylococcus, Cladosporium and Aspergillus, which contain potentially human pathogenic strains, were identified. Analysis of the indigenous bacterial and endophytic fungal populations revealed only negligible, short-term effects resulting from the bacterial treatments, and that they were more influenced by field site, plant growth stage and microenvironment.