Verticillium Wilt in Oilseed Rape—the Microbiome is Crucial for Disease Outbreaks as Well as for Efficient Suppression

Rybakova, Daria; Wikström, M.; Birch-Jensen, Fia; Postma, J.; Ehlers, Ralf Uno; Schmuck, Maria; Kollmann, René; Köhl, J.; Berg, Gabriele


Microbiome management is a promising way to suppress verticillium wilt, a severe disease in Brassica caused by Verticillium longisporum. In order to improve current biocontrol strategies, we compared bacterial Verticillium antagonists in different assays using a hierarchical selection and evaluation scheme, and we integrated outcomes of our previous studies. The result was strongly dependent on the assessment method chosen (in vitro, in vivo, in situ), on the growth conditions of the plants and their genotype. The most promising biocontrol candidate identified was a Brassica endophyte Serratia plymuthica F20. Positive results were confirmed in field trials and by microscopically visualizing the three-way interaction. Applying antagonists in seed treatment contributes to an exceptionally low ecological footprint, supporting efficient economic and ecological solutions to controlling verticillium wilt. Indigenous microbiome, especially soil and seed microbiome, has been identified as key to understanding disease outbreaks and suppression. We suggest that verticillium wilt is a microbiome-driven disease caused by a reduction in microbial diversity within seeds and in the soil surrounding them. We strongly recommend integrating microbiome data in the development of new biocontrol and breeding strategies and combining both strategies with the aim of designing healthy microbiomes, thus making plants more resilient toward soil-borne pathogens.