My project was based on crop protection to reduce food insecurity using environmentally friendly products. Production of ornamental geophytes also known as flower bulbs, is facing several challenges including substantial yearly losses from various pathogens of which the soft rot bacterium Pectobacterium carotovorum, viral, and fungal pathogens are the most devastating. These herbaceous perennials consist of underground storage organs such as tubers, bulbs or rhizomes which make them better targets for pathogens. There are no effective control measures up to date for these pathogens, therefore for optimal cut-flower and bulb production it is required to develop alternative disease and insect control measures.
Beneficial microorganisms have been shown to actively colonize plant roots and induce beneficial effects on plant growth and health and therefore, I hypothesized that beneficial microorganism or natural products that were specifically developed to support plants, may improve plant health in soft rot sensitive crops. I aimed at using the growth promoting products or natural plant extracts to improve yield and reduce the development of soft rot disease in the greenhouse crops.
I used three commercial products of beneficial microorganisms or natural plant extracts which were tested as growth supplements applied by watering on Z. aethiopica or O. dubium grown in an experimental greenhouse. I assessed the products effects on soil microbiome, plant growth and health, and on P. carotovorum. In vitro experiments were conducted to test the products potential to induce resistance in plants and antagonize bacterial growth.
I am passionately motivated to implement and further work on this project as it would promote an increased use of beneficial microorganisms or natural products in improving production of ornamental geophytes; reduce the use of synthetic chemical hence reducing the environmentally risks-associated problems.
Beatrice Wausi Gedion, Kenya