Ecology of Soil-borne plant pathogenic fungi
Team Leader : STEINBERG Christian
Ecology of soil-borne plant pathogenic fungi (Foxy)
The team, "Ecology of soil-borne plant pathogenic fungi (Foxy)" is dedicated for 30 years to the biology and ecology of soil-borne plant pathogens with a particular focus on Fusarium. This team has greatly contributed to the definition of basic concepts of soil inoculum potential and soil suppressiveness to disease as it has developed bioassays to experimentally validate these concepts. Currently the Foxy team seeks to elucidate the mechanisms responsible for soil suppressiveness to Fusarium wilt to identify useful levers to control soil-borne plant pathogenic fungi in a sustainable and environmentally friendly way. The purpose of this research is to provide agronomists with indicators offering innovative cropping systems and allowing them to determine the community structure of the soil-borne microflora by appropriate agricultural practices so that conducive soils become less conducive if not suppressive to fungal diseases. Metagenomics and metatranscriptomics approaches are being developed to identify mechanisms involved and consider a functional approach to the suppressive nature of soil to plant diseases.
The principle is based on the conservatory biocontrol (managing soil-borne diversity) that is complementary to the inundative biocontrol (introduction of selectedantagonistic populations). An ecosystemic approach is used considering three levels of integration :
(i) models (Fusarium oxysporum, Rhizoctonia solani) to elucidate the ecological requirements and mechanisms governing the development of the saprophytic fungi in the soil, to understand the interactions between plant pathogens and non-pathogenic fungi,
(ii) populations to assess the intra-specific biodiversity of fungi and explain the onset and progression of diseases, as well as assumptions regarding the life-traits and evolution of the species of interest,
(iii) microbial communities and microfauna to measure the response of the microflora to agricultural practices in relation to the development and the control of pathogenic populations.