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Predatory protists reduce bacteria wilt disease incidence in tomato plants


Nature Communications volume 15, Article number: 829 (2024)


Soil organisms are affected by the presence of predatory protists. However, it remains poorly understood how predatory protists can affect plant disease incidence and how fertilization regimes can affect these interactions. Here, we characterise the rhizosphere bacteria, fungi and protists over eleven growing seasons of tomato planting under three fertilization regimes, i.e conventional, organic and bioorganic, and with different bacterial wilt disease incidence levels. We find that predatory protists are negatively associated with disease incidence, especially two ciliophoran Colpoda OTUs, and that bioorganic fertilization enhances the abundance of predatory protists. In glasshouse experiments we find that the predatory protist Colpoda influences disease incidence by directly consuming pathogens and indirectly increasing the presence of pathogen-suppressive microorganisms in the soil. Together, we demonstrate that predatory protists reduce bacterial wilt disease incidence in tomato plants via direct and indirect reductions of pathogens. Our study provides insights on the role that predatory protists play in plant disease, which could be used to design more sustainable agricultural practices.

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