Ecology of Hymexazol-Insensitive Pythium Species in Field Soils

Ali-Shtayeh, M. S., Salah, Ayman M. A., & Jamous, R. M.
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Soils from 100 irrigated fields (95 under vegetables, 5 under citrus) in different geographical locations in the West Bank (Palestinian Autonomous Territory) were surveyed for hymexazol-insensitive (HIS) Pythium species using the surface soil dilution plate (SSDP) method with the VP3 medium amended with 50 mg/L hymexazol (HMI) (VP3H50), over a period of 12 months. HIS Pythium species were isolated from 37% of the soils surveyed, with mean population levels ranging from 4.3-1422 CFU g(-1) dry weight. Eight HIS Pythium taxa were recovered on the VP3H50 medium, the most abundant of which was P. vexans (found in 29% of field soils surveyed). Seasonal variations in population levels of HIS Pythium species were studied in four fields over a period of 12 months. Significant seasonal variations in HIS population levels were detected in the four fields, with the highest population levels of HIS Pythium spp. encountered in spring and the lowest population levels in winter in three of the fields surveyed. Effects of HMI on linear growth and colony morphology of 149 Pythium ssp. isolates were examined on CMA amended with HMI at five concentrations. Pythium vexans isolates responded differently from those of the other Pythium species. Isolates of this important pathogen were more insensitive to HMI at high concentrations than the other main species tested. A large proportion of the P. ultimum isolates was either insensitive or weakly sensitive to HMI. Furthermore, a few isolates of other Pythium species were insensitive to the fungicide at various concentrations. The colony morphology of P. vexans isolates was not affected by HMI, whereas colonies of the other species showed sparse growth on the HMI amended medium relative to the control. The pathogenicity of P. vexans and P. ultimum isolates to cucumber seedlings was examined in growth chambers. Insensitive isolates of both species were found to be more virulent damping-off pathogens than the sensitive isolates. The present study demonstrates that HMI can not be used effectively in controlling Pythium spp. in soil inhabited with high densities of HIS Pythium spp. pathogens.