University of Arizona Department of Environmental Science

Funding Year


Funding Quarter of Year

Quarter 3

Amount Funded

YCEDA: $12,332


Soilborne plant pathogens live a double life. On one hand, they invade and colonize plant hosts, causing diseases. On the other hand, they are part of the soil “microbiome”, the complex community of all micro-organisms inhabiting the soil. 

In the last years, the role of the soil microbiome has been recognized as an important factor to consider for the development of efficient soil-borne plant pathogen control methods. The latest data shows how the occurrence of certain diseases can be triggered and/or influenced by soils’ biotic component. The complex ecological interactions occurring within soil microbial communities can provide a protective (or suppressive) effect on pathogens. A proper understanding and management of the soil microbiome is emerging as a necessity for developing control strategies. With this project, we aim at investigating the relationship between the occurrence of Fusarium wilt of lettuce (Fol) and the microbial communities inhabiting the soil in the cultivated fields of Yuma county, and how this relationship modulates plant disease. We will collect soil samples from both infected and non-infected soils associated to different farming practices, and we will quantify diversity and composition changes associated with disease. 

The outcomes of the project will be: (A) development of a methodology for the assessment of F. oxysporum lactucae; (B) describing the differences in microbial communities between healthy and diseased soils according to different agricultural practices, and (C) fundamental knowledge for a larger project investigating the soil abiotic and biotic properties of soils in Yuma with a specific focus on functional soil attributes and Fol disease occurrence.