Limited survival of Ralstonia solanacearum race 3 in bulk soils and composts from Egypt.
Survival of Ralstonia solanacearum race 3 biovar 2 (phylotype II sequevar 1) in Egyptian soils and compost was studied under laboratory and field conditions. Survival of the pathogen under laboratory conditions varied with temperature, water potential and soil type, with temperature being the major determinant of survival of the pathogen. The effects of temperature and moisture content were variable between different experiments, but survival was generally longer at 15°C than at 4, 28 and 35°C respectively. Survival was also longer when moisture levels were constant compared with varying moisture levels at all temperatures. In experiments to compare the effects of progressive drying in sandy and clay soils there was a difference in survival times between the two soil types. In sandy soils, the pathogen died out more rapidly when soil was allowed to dry out than in controls where the soil was kept at constant water potential. In clay soils there was little difference between the two treatments, possibly due to the formation of a hard impermeable outer layer during the drying process, which retarded water loss from within. Survival in mature composts at 15°C was of the same order of magnitude as in soils but shorter at 28°C, possibly owing to increased biological activity at this temperature, or a resumption of the composting process, with concomitant higher temperatures within the compost itself. The maximum survival time recorded over all soil types and conditions during in vitro studies was around 200 days. In field studies, the maximum survival time in both bare sand and clay was around 85 days at depths up to 50 cm. The survival time was reduced in field experiments carried out in summer to less than 40 days and in one study when the ground was flooded for rice cultivation, the bacterium could not be detected 14 days after flooding. The maximum survival time of R. solanacearum in infected plant material or in infested soil samples incorporated into compost heaps was less than 2 weeks. At the culmination of field soil and compost experiments, no infection was detected in tomato seedlings up to 10 weeks after transplanting into the same soils or composts under glasshouse conditions at a temperature of 25°C.