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Chapter 14 Plant Pathogens and Control Strategies in Aquaponics

4 months ago

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Gilles Stouvenakers, Peter Dapprich, Sebastien Massart, and M. Haïssam Jijakli

Abstract Among the diversity of plant diseases occurring in aquaponics, soil-borne pathogens, such as Fusarium spp., Phytophthora spp. and Pythium spp., are the most problematic due to their preference for humid/aquatic environment conditions. Phytophthora spp. and Pythium spp. which belong to the Oomycetes pseudo-fungi require special attention because of their mobile form of dispersion, the so-called zoospores that can move freely and actively in liquid water. In coupled aquaponics, curative methods are still limited because of the possible toxicity of pesticides and chemical agents for fish and beneficial bacteria (e.g. nitrifying bacteria of the biofilter). Furthermore, the development of biocontrol agents for aquaponic use is still at its beginning. Consequently, ways to control the initial infection and the progression of a disease are mainly based on preventive actions and water physical treatments. However, suppressive action (suppression) could happen in aquaponic environment considering recent papers and the suppressive activity already highlighted in hydroponics. In addition, aquaponic water contains organic matter that could promote establishment and growth of heterotrophic bacteria in the system or even improve plant growth and viability directly. With regards to organic hydroponics (i.e. use of organic fertilisation and organic plant media), these bacteria could act as antagonist agents or as plant defence elicitors to protect plants from diseases. In the future, research on the disease suppressive ability of the aquaponic biotope must be increased, as well as isolation, characterisation and formulation of microbial plant pathogen antagonists. Finally, a good knowledge in the rapid identification of pathogens, combined with control methods and diseases monitoring, as recommended in integrated plant pest management, is the key to an efficient control of plant diseases in aquaponics.

Keywords Pathogens · Fungi · Aquaponics · Biotope · Suppressive · Plant pest management · Biocontrol agents


G. Stouvenakers · S. Massart · M. H. Jijakli

Integrated and Urban Plant Pathology Laboratory, Université de Liège, Gembloux Agro-Bio Tech, Gembloux, Belgium

P. Dapprich

Department of Agriculture, Fachhochschule Südwestfalen University of Applied Sciences, Soest, Germany

© The Author(s) 2019 353

S. Goddek et al. (eds.), Aquaponics Food Production Systems,


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