Potato (Solanum tuberosum L.) is a major crop in China, with 80.0 million tons being produced in 2010 on 3.3 million ha. Pectobacterium carotovorum subsp. carotovorum Jones 1901; Hauben et al. 1999 causes soft rot worldwide on a wide range of hosts including potato, carrot, and cabbage. During spring 2010, a soft rot with a foul smell was noted in stored potato tubers of different cultivars in the Guangdong Province. Symptoms on tubers appeared as tan, water-soaked areas with watery ooze. The rotted tissues were white to cream colored. Stems of infected plants with typical inky black symptoms could also be found in the fields prior to harvest. Three different potato fields were surveyed, and 13% of the plants had the symptoms. Twenty-seven samples (three symptomatic tubers per sample) were collected. Bacteria were successfully isolated from all diseased tissues on nutrient agar media supplemented with 5% sucrose and incubated at 26 ± 1°C for 36 h. After purification on tripticase soy agar media, four typical strains (7-3-1, 7-3-2, 8-3-1, and 8-3-2) were identified using the following deterministic tests: gram-negative rods, oxidase negative, facultatively anaerobic, able to degrade pectate, sensitive to erythromycin, negative for phosphatase, unable to produce acid from α-methyl-glucoside, and produced acid from trehalose. Biolog analysis (Ver 4.20.05, Hayward, CA) identified the strains as P. carotovorum subsp. carotovorum (SIM 0.808, 0.774, 0.782, and 0.786, respectively). The identity of strains 7-3-1 (GenBank Accession No. JX258132), 7-3-2 (JX258133), and 8-3-1 (JX196705) was confirmed by 16S rRNA gene sequencing (4), since they had 99% sequence identity with other P. carotovorum subsp. carotovorum strains (GenBank Accession Nos. JF926744 and JF926758) using BLASTn. Further genetic analysis of strain 8-3-1 was performed targeting informative housekeeping genes, i.e., acnA (GenBank Accession No. JX196704), gabA (JX196706), icdA (JX196707), mdh (JX196708), mtlD (JX196709), pgi (JX196710), and proA (JX196711) (2). These sequences from strain 8-3-1 were 99 to 100%, homologous to sequences of multiple strains of P. carotovorum subsp. carotovorum. Therefore, strain 8-3-1 grouped with P. carotovorum subsp. carotovorum on the phylogenetic trees (neighbor-joining method, 1,000 bootstrap values) of seven concatenated housekeeping genes when compared with 60 other strains, including Pectobacterium spp. and Dickeya spp. (3). Pathogenicity of four strains (7-3-1, 7-3-2, 8-3-1, and 8-3-2) was evaluated by depositing a bacterial suspension (106 CFU/ml) on the potato slices of cultivar ‘Favorita’ and incubating at 30 ± 1°C. Slices inoculated with just water served as non-inoculated checks. The strains caused soft rot within 72 h and the checks had no rot. Bacteria were reisolated from the slices and were shown to be identical to the original strains based on morphological, cultural, and biochemical tests. Although this pathogen has already been reported in northern China (1), to our knowledge, this is the first report of P. carotovorum subsp. carotovorum causing bacterial soft rot of potato in Guangdong Province of China.
References: (1) Y. X. Fei et al. J. Hexi Univ. 26:51, 2010.(2) B. Ma et al. Phytobacteriology 97:1150, 2007. (3) S. Nabhan et al. Plant Pathol. 61:498, 2012. (4) W. G. Weisbury et al. J. Bacteriol. 173:697, 1991.
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