A study was carried out to determine whether expansion of marram-grass stands (Ammophila arenaria (L.) Link) on acidic inner Dutch coastal dunes was caused by suppressiveness of soils from these stands against three potential pathogenic fungi of marram grass, namely Fusarium culmorum (W. G. Sm.) Sacc., Phoma exigua Desm. and a Ulocladium sp. The suppressiveness of the acidic inner dune soils was compared with that of lime-rich dune soils from vigorous and declining marram-grass stands. Suppressiveness of the dune soils against the saprotrophic fungi Chaetomium globosum Kunze: Fr, Mucor hiemalis Wehmer and Trichoderma harzianum Rifai was also determined. All fungi had been isolated from marram-grass roots. Suppressiveness was determined by comparing the formation of hyphae from potato-dextrose agar discs into (layer method) or on top of (surface method) dune soils with that of controls consisting of sterile, acid-washed beach sand. The growth of the three root-infecting fungi was strongly inhibited in all soils regardless of the method used. Hence, there were no indications that the potential pathogenic fungi were selectively suppressed by the acidic dune soils and, consequently, the results did not give any indication for the involvement of a fungal component in the decline of marram grass. Growth of the saprotrophs C. globosum and M. hiemalis was much less inhibited than that of the root-infecting fungi. Growth of T. harzianum was strongly inhibited in alkaline soils but not in the acid ones. The suppression of fungal growth could be partly or completely eliminated by a microwave treatment, indicating that biological components of the soil were essential to suppressiveness. The suppression of the fungi by colonies of dune soil micro-organisms on water-agar differed considerably from soil alone. Yet, all methods indicated the occurrence of general suppressiveness against fungi by dune soils, irrespective of the origin of the soil samples. This suppressiveness was probably not due to direct competition with other soil micro-organisms for nutrients but to inhibiting compounds produced by the soil micro-organisms. [KEYWORDS: suppressiveness; antagonism; dune soils; Ammophila arenaria (L.) Link Plant-parasitic nematodes; coastal foredunes; l link; vegetation; degeneration; grassland; heathland; organisms;bacteria]
Original languageEnglish
JournalNew Phytologist
Journal publication date1998

ID: 247460