Soil-borne diseases have become increasingly problematic for farmers producing crops intensively under protected agriculture. Although soil fumigants are convenient and effective for minimizing the impact of soil-borne disease, they are most often detrimental to beneficial soil microorganisms. Previous research showed that bio-activation of soil using biological control agents present in biofertilizers or organic fertilizers offered promise as a strategy for controlling soil-borne pathogens when the soil was bio-activated after fumigation. Our research sought to determine how bio-activation can selectively inhibit pathogens while promoting the recovery of beneficial microbes. We monitored changes in the soil’s physicochemical properties, its microbial community and reductions in soil-borne pathogens. We found that the population density of Fusarium and Phytophthora were significantly reduced and tomato yield was significantly increased when the soil was bio-activated. Soil pH and soil catalase activity were significantly increased, and the soil’s microbial community structure was changed, which may have enhanced the soil’s ability to reduce Fusarium and Phytophthora. Our results showed that soil microbial diversity and relative abundance of beneficial microorganisms (such as Sphingomonas, Bacillus, Mortierella and Trichoderma) increased shortly after bio-activation of the soil, and were significantly and positively correlated with pathogen suppression. The reduction in pathogens may have been due to a combination of fumigation-fertilizer that reduced pathogens directly, or the indirect effect of an optimized soil microbiome that improved the soil’s non-biological factors (such as soil pH, fertility structure), enhanced the soil’s functional properties and increased tomato yield.Copyright © 2021. Published by Elsevier Ltd.
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