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Development of a small-plant bioassay to assess banana grown from tissue culture for consistent infection by Fusarium oxysporum f. sp. cubense

Smith, L.J., Smith, M.K., Tree, D., O'Keefe, D., Galea, V.J.
Australasian plant pathology 2008 v.37 no.2 pp. 171-179
Dianthus caryophyllus, Fusarium oxysporum f. sp. cubense, Sorghum (Poaceae), agar, bananas, bioassays, chlamydospores, conidia, culture media, growth retardation, inoculum, leaves, millets, pasteurization, pathogens, perlite, phytotoxins, root growth, roots, sand, slow-release fertilizers, streptomycin, sulfates, tissue culture, vermiculite, virulence, water table
Two reliable small-plant bioassays were developed using tissue-cultured banana, resulting in consistent symptom expression and infection by Fusarium oxysporum f. sp. cubense (Foc). One bioassay was based on providing a constant watertable within a closed pot and the second used free-draining pots. Culture medium for spore generation influenced infectivity of Foc. Inoculation of potted banana by drenching potting mix with a conidial suspension, consisting mostly of microconidia, few macroconidia and no chlamydospores, generated from one-quarter-strength potato dextrose agar + streptomycin sulfate, resulted in inconsistent infection. When a conidial suspension that consisted of all three spore types, microconidia, macroconidia and chlamydospores, prepared from spores generated on carnation leaf agar was used, all plants became infected, indicating that the spore type present in conidial suspensions may contribute to inconsistency of infection. Inconsistency of infection was not due to loss of virulence of the pathogen in culture. Millet grain precolonised by Foc as a source of inoculum resulted in consistent infection between replicate plants. Sorghum was not a suitable grain for preparation of inoculum as it was observed to discolour roots and has the potential to stunt root growth, possibly due to the release of phytotoxins. For the modified closed-pot system, a pasteurised potting mix consisting of equal parts of bedding sand, perlite and vermiculite plus 1 g/L Triabon slow release fertiliser was suitable for plant growth and promoted capillary movement of water through the potting mix profile. A suitable potting mix for the free-draining pot system was also developed.