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Asparagus (Asparagus officinalis) is a high-value perennial vegetable crop that has shown a marked decline in productivity after many years of continuous harvesting. This decline is caused by an increase in both abiotic (autotoxicity, harvesting pressure) and biotic stresses [fungal infections, mainly Fusarium crown and root rot (FCRR)]. To gain insight into disease development and possible mitigation strategies, we studied the effects of harvesting, time in the growing season, and field age on FCRR development, Fusarium species composition, and arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi (AMF) communities in both a controlled field experiment and an ecological survey of commercial fields. In one experiment, a 3-year-old asparagus field was subdivided into plots that were harvested or not and sampled throughout the growing season to assess short-term dominant Fusarium species shifts. In addition, diseased and healthy asparagus plants sampled from six commercial fields in the same geographical region were used to assess Fusarium and AMF communities in relation to different parameters. Fusarium and AMF communities were described by using a polymerase chain reaction (PCR)–denaturing gradient gel electrophoresis (DGGE) approach, and results were analyzed by mainly correspondence analysis and canonical correspondence analysis. Results showed that dominant Fusarium taxa assemblages changed throughout the growing season. Harvested plots had significantly more FCRR symptomatic plants at the end of the growing season, but this effect was not related with any trend in Fusarium community structure. Sampling site and plant age significantly influenced AMF community structure, whereas only sampling site consistently influenced the Fusarium community. Diseased and healthy plants harbored similar Fusarium and AMF communities. Shifts in Fusarium community might not be responsible for different disease incidence because they are ubiquitous regardless of plant health status or harvesting regime. The different incidence noted might rather be related to plant physiology, antagonist microbial communities, or soil parameters.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)104-113
JournalMicrobial Ecology
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2006

ID: 54706