Worm compost may help fight seedling diseases

12/21/2011 04:14:00 PM
By The Grower Staff

Allison Jack sifts through worm compost.Courtesy of Cornell UniversityGraduate student Allison Jack screens worm compost.

Compost made with the help of worms could help prevent plant pathogens, according to Cornell University research.

Allison Jack, a doctoral candidate in plant pathology, looked at how beneficial microbes from vermicompost, as the worm-made product is called, colonize the seed's surface, according to a news release.

As a result, the beneficial microbes protect the seed from infection by releasing a substance that interferes with a chemical signal between the host and the pathogen.

Eric Carr, a master's student under plant pathology professor Eric Nelson, is studying how vermicompost may suppress Pythium aphanidermatum, which is responsible for damping off of seedlings.

Part of the researchers' work also will be to identify the microbes that do the suppressing and determine how to harness them.



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