Identification and functional analysis of Fusarium antagonists

Tulips are a multimillion euro business in the Netherlands. One of the biggest problem that farmers face is rot of the tulip bulbs caused by the bacterium Fusarium Oxysporum. This bacteria can cause losses of up to 30% and thereby losses of millions of euros. The industry therefore heavily relies on chemicals with the aim to prevent this disease from happening.

Although chemical treatments may help for a certain amount of time it has become clear that Fusarium has developed resistances to these chemicals. Farmers therefore have to use more chemicals leading to more costs and eventually more resistant Fusarium species and this cycle continues. In light of this, European regulations are now forcing farmers to use less chemical products and smaller doses.

A solution to this problem would be a more biological approach to dampen the effect of Fusarium and this project could play a very important role in this. In the last 2 years we have gathered soil from many tulipfields and have used a culturomics approach to identify the species living there. Doing so we have collected approximately 200 unique bacteria species and started testing their ability to antagonise against Fusarium Oxysporum. From a very first attempt with only 16 species we already found 1 bacteria specie that showed a very promising result; namely inhibition of growth of the pathogenic Fusarium.

This is a great result but needs to be validated. Apart from that, we may be able to identify many more species that that show antagonistic properties against Fusarium. When such antagonist have been found and validated, we need to know whether they are specific for Fusarium and what the mechanism is behind this antagonism. Does it work by inhibiting the growth of Fusarium or is it actively killing Fusarium? These are all things to explore. Finally, we may even take a metabolomics approach to better understand how this antagonism against Fusarium works.

Altogether, this work may identify key species that could be used in a more biological approach in the tulip industry.


  • Kweektechnieken
  • Metagenomics (16s sequencing)


Type project Spin-off van RAAK-mkb project Geschikte bodem voor duurzame tulpenteelt
Looptijd n.v.t.
Status Lopend


Innovatieve Moleculaire Diagnostiek, Bio-informatica
Projectleiding Wouter van Zon (BM)
Docentonderzoeker(s) Wouter van Zon (BM)
Analist(en) Mara Kroner
Student(en) 1 student BM 4e jaars
Partner(s) -