Zinc fertilisation increases tolerance to Rhizoctonia solani (AG 8) in Medicago truncatula

T.C. Streeter, Zed Rengel, S.M. Neate, R.D. Graham

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    The effect of Zn fertilisation on tolerance of Medicago truncatula to infection by the root-rotting pathogen Rhizoctonia solani (AG 8) was studied in a field survey and in two experiments in controlled conditions. From the field survey, the concentration of Zn in the shoots of medics was found to be inversely related to the severity of disease on the root. Overall, the addition of Zn to Zn-deficient soil in controlled environment experiments resulted in reduced yield loss in the presence of R. solani, a reduction in disease score and no change in the concentration of nutrients in the shoots. However, under Zn deficiency, increasing levels of added R. solani resulted in significant yield loss, an increase in disease score and a reduction in concentration of Zn in the roots. This occurred despite a decrease in the number of infection sites caused by the fungus on the root and a lower amount of R. solani DNA extracted in medics deficient in Zn compared with plants supplied with Zn. While plants supplied with Zn were able to maintain a stable concentration of Zn in the shoots, the concentration of Zn in the roots also declined with increasing levels of R. solani. In conclusion, Zn application does not directly inhibit infection by R. solani, nor reduce its pathogenicity, but it does strongly increase root growth. The net result is that Zn-sufficient plants are more tolerant to the effects of root pruning by the fungus than Zn-deficient plants.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)233-242
    JournalPlant and Soil
    Publication statusPublished - 2001


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