Investigations into peach seedling stunting caused by a replant soil


  • Editor: Kornelia Smalla

Correspondence: James Borneman, Department of Plant Pathology and Microbiology, University of California, Riverside, CA 92521, USA. Tel.: +1 951 827 3584; fax: +1 951 827 4294; e-mail:


Replant diseases often occur when pome and stone fruits are grown in soil that had previously been planted with the same or similar plant species. They typically lead to reductions in plant growth, crop yield and production duration. In this project, greenhouse assays were used to identify a peach orchard soil that caused replant disease symptoms. Biocidal treatments of this soil led to growth increases of Nemaguard peach seedlings. In addition, plants grown in as little as 1% of the replant soil exhibited reduced plant growth. These results suggest that the disease etiology has a biological component. Analysis of roots from plants exhibiting various levels of replant disease symptoms showed little difference in the amounts of PCR-amplified bacterial or fungal rRNA genes. However, analysis using a stramenopile-selective PCR assay showed that rRNA genes from this taxon were generally more abundant in plants with the smallest top weights. Nucleotide sequence analysis of these genes identified several phylotypes belonging to Bacillariophyta, Chrysophyceae, Eustigmatophyceae, Labyrinthulida, Oomycetes, Phaeophyceae and Synurophyceae. Sequence-selective quantitative PCR assays targeting four of the most abundant phylotypes showed that both diatoms (Sellaphora spp.) and an oomycete (Pythium ultimum) were negatively associated with plant top weights.