Effect of nitrogen supply rate on disease resistance in tomato depends on the pathogen

Hoffland, E.; Jeger, M.J.; Beusichem, M.L. van


The aim of this study was to investigate the effect of tissue nitrogen concentration, as a consequence of nitrogen supply rate, on the susceptibility of tomato plants to three pathogens.We varied tissue N concentration by supplying N at different rates by adding nitrate in different, exponentially increasing amounts to the nutrient solution on which the tomato plants were grown. Separate experiments were carried out to test susceptibility of tomato plants to the bacterial speck-causing Pseudomonas syringae pv tomato, to the wilt agent Fusarium oxysporum f.sp. lycopersici and to tomato powdery mildew caused by Oidium lycopersicum. The effect of tissue N concentration appeared to be highly pathogen-dependent: there was no effect on susceptibility to F. oxysporum, but susceptibility to P. syringae and O. lycopersicum increased significantly with increasing N concentration. We have previously demonstrated the opposite for susceptibility to Botrytis cinerea: decreasing susceptibility with increasing N concentration. The apparent contradictory effects are discussed in relation to the effect of N supply on both the nutritional value of the plant tissue to the pathogen and on the concentration of resistance-related compounds.We conclude that the effect of changing both characteristics on disease susceptibility is highly pathogen-specific and is probably dependent on differences in resource requirements of the pathogen or the sensitivity of the pathogen to plant resistance reactions or on both these factors.