Secreted Secondary Metabolites Reduce Bacterial Wilt Severity of Tomato in Bacterial-Fungal Co-Infections.

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In order to gain a comprehensive understanding of plant disease in natural and agricultural ecosystems, it is essential to examine plant disease in multi-pathogen-host systems. Ralstonia solanacearum and Fusarium oxysporum f. sp. lycopersici are vascular wilt pathogens that can result in heavy yield losses in susceptible hosts such as tomato. Although both pathogens occupy the xylem, the costs of mixed infections on wilt disease are unknown. Here, we characterize the consequences of co-infection with R. solanacearum and F. oxysporum using tomato as the model host. Our results demonstrate that bacterial wilt severity is reduced in co-infections, that bikaverin synthesis by Fusarium contributes to bacterial wilt reduction, and that the arrival time of each microbe at the infection court is important in driving the severity of wilt disease. Further, analysis of the co-infection root secretome identified previously uncharacterized secreted metabolites that reduce R. solanacearum growth in vitro and provide protection to tomato seedlings against bacterial wilt disease. Taken together, these results highlight the need to understand the consequences of mixed infections in plant disease.