Analysis of the interaction of pathogens with plant roots is often complicated by the growth of plants in a soil substrate. A soil-free plant growth system (SPS) was developed that removes the need for a substrate while supporting the growth of seedlings in a nutrient rich, oxygenated environment. The model legume Lupinus angustifolius was used to compare the growth of seedlings within soil and the SPS. Seedlings grown under both conditions were similar in morphology, anatomy and health (measured by leaf chlorophyll abundance) and importantly there was little difference in root growth and development although straighter and fuller root systems were achieved in the SPS. The ease of access to the root system proved efficient for the analysis of root and pathogen interactions with no interference from soil or adhering particulate matter. Following inoculation of L. angustifolius roots with Phytophthora cinnamomi the host/pathogen interaction was easily observed and tissues sampled undamaged.
Field of Research
050299 Environmental Science and Management not elsewhere classified