Relationship between soil cellulolytic activity and suppression of seedling blight of barley in arable soils

Peter Have Rasmussen, I. Knudsen, S. Elmholt, D. F. Jensen

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review


The objective was to investigate the relationship between soil suppression of seedling blight of barley caused by Fusarium culmorum (W.G. Smith) Sacc. and the soil cellulolytic activity of beta-glucosidase, cellobiohydrolase and endocellulase. Disease suppression was investigated in bioassays with test soils mixed with sand, and barley seeds inoculated with F. culmorum. After 19 days, disease severity was evaluated on the barley seedlings. Soil cellulolytic activities were measured using 4-methylumbelliferyl-labelled fluorogenic substrates, and were expressed as V-max values obtained by using the Hanes-Wolf transformation of the Michaelis-Menten equation. Soil samples from 6 to 13 cm depth were collected in the early spring as undisturbed blocks from 10 arable soils with different physico-chemical properties and cultivation history. Significant correlations were found between soil suppresiveness and the activities of beta-glucosidase and cellobiohydrolase, where soils representing the highest disease suppression had the highest activities. Furthermore, soil suppressiveness, as well as the activity of beta-glucosidase and cellobiohydrolase, were significantly correlated with the soil content of total C and N. From the preliminary results obtained, it is proposed that the cellulolytic activity can be used as an enzymatic approach to study the microbial turnover of organic matter in soils and as indicator of seedling blight of barley caused by F. culmorum. (C) 2002 Elsevier Science B.V. All rights reserved.
Original languageEnglish
JournalAgriculture, Ecosystems & Environment. Applied Soil Ecology
Issue number1
Pages (from-to)91-96
Publication statusPublished - 2002


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