Chrysanthemum (Chrysanthemum spp.) is a popular potted and cut plant ornamental in Hungary. In September 2012, chrysanthemum plants (Chrysanthemum morifolium Ramat. cv. Palisade) showing wilt symptoms were collected from different greenhouses in the cities of Budakalász and Pilis near Budapest. Affected plants had dark brown to black lesions on the leaves and stems. Spots on the leaves were first water soaked and then became necrotic, and the plants wilted. According to the growers, disease symptoms developed rapidly, resulting in losses of nearly 100%. The disease caused a loss of ~€2,000 for the growers in cities of Budakalász and Pilis in Hungary. Losses for growers and consumers could have reached half a million euros. Ten samples were used for disease diagnosis and bacteria were isolated according to the method of Schaad et al. (3). Briefly, diseased leaf and stem tissues were macerated and streaked onto King's medium B (KB). Colonies on KB were white and non-fluorescent. All 10 strains grew at 26°C, were gram negative, and induced a hypersensitive response on tobacco (Nicotiana tabacum L. ‘White Burley’) leaves (1). Biochemical tests were also used for identification, and the results of API 20E (Biomérieux, Marcy l'Etoile, France), demonstrated that the bacterium belonged to the Enterobacteriaceae. The strain was positive for β-galactosidase and citrate utilization, acetoin and indole production, gelatinase, and utilization of glucose, mannitol, saccharose, melibiose, and arabinose. For molecular identification of the pathogen, the 16S rDNA gene was amplified from strain DCBK-1H with a general primer pair (63f/1389r) (2). The PCR products were cloned into a pGEM T-Easy plasmid vector (Promega, Madison, WI) and transformed into Escherichia coli DH5α cells. A recombinant plasmid (2A2.5) was sequenced using the M13 forward and reverse primers. The sequence was deposited in NCBI GenBank (Accession No. HF913430) and showed 99 to 100% sequence identity with a number of Dickeya chrysanthemi strains found in the database, including type strain HM590189, GQ293897, GQ293898 with 99% similarity and 100% identity with sequence FM946179. On the basis of the symptoms, colony morphology, biochemical tests, and 16S rDNA sequence homology, the pathogen was identified as D. chrysanthemi. Pathogenicity was tested by inoculating the recovered strains onto three 1-month-old, healthy potted chrysanthemum cuttings (C. morifolium cv. Palisade). Four leaves and stem each of three ‘Palisade’ cultivars were inoculated by injecting ~10 μl of a bacteria suspension containing 107 CFU/ml into each leaf and stem. As a negative control, one plant was inoculated with water in each of four leaves and stem. Plants were enclosed in plastic bags and incubated in a greenhouse under 80% shade at 26°C day and 17°C night temperatures. Within 24 h, water-soaked spots appeared on inoculated leaves and the plants were wilted. The water control appeared normal. D. chrysanthemi was re-isolated and identified as described above; thus, Koch's postulates were fulfilled. To our knowledge, this is the first report of bacterial wilt caused by D. chrysanthemi on chrysanthemum in Hungary.
References: (1) Z. Klement. Nature 199:299, 1963. (2) A. M. Osborn et al. Environ. Microbiol. 2:39, 2000. (3) N. W. Schaad et al. Erwinia soft rot group. Page 56 in: Laboratory Guide for Identification of Plant Pathogenic Bacteria. 3rd ed. N. W. Schaad et al., eds. American Phytopathological Society, St. Paul, MN, 2001.