Orostachys japonica (Maxim) A. Berger is an important traditional medicine in Korea. The extract of this plant has antioxidant activity and suppresses cancer cell proliferation (1). From summer through fall of 2012 and 2013, a high incidence (~10% to 30%) of disease outbreaks of all plants characterized by water-soaked lesions and soft rot with a stinky odor was observed in cultivated O. japonica around Uljin (36°59′35.04″N, 126°24′1.51″E), Korea. Water-soaked lesions were first observed on the stem base of plants. Subsequently, the plants collapsed, although the upper portion remained asymptomatic. Thereafter, the lesions expanded rapidly over the entire plant. To isolate potential pathogens from infected leaves, small sections (5 to 10 mm2) were excised from the margins of lesions. Ten bacteria were isolated from ten symptomatic plants. Three representative isolates from different symptomatic plants were used for identification and pathogenicity tests. Isolated bacteria were gram negative, pectolytic on crystal violet pectate agar, nonfluorescent on King's medium B, and elicited a hypersensitive response in tobacco plants. All isolates caused soft rot of potato tubers. These isolates also differed from isolates of Erwinia chrysanthemi (Ech) that they were insensitive to erythromycin and did not produce phosphatase. These isolates differed from known strains of E. carotovora subsp. atroseptica in that they did not produce reducing substances from sucrose (2). Use of the Biolog GN microplate and the Release 4.0 system identified the isolate as Pectobacterium carotovorum subsp. carotovorum with 81.2% similarity. The 16S rRNA of the isolated bacteria was amplified by PCR and sequenced as described by Weisburg et al. (3). A BLAST analysis for sequence similarity of the 16S rRNA region revealed 99% similarity with nucleotide sequences for P. carotovorum subsp. carotovorum isolates (KC790305, KC790280, JF926758, JX196705, and AB680074). The pathogenicity of three bacterial isolates was examined on three 2-year-old O. japonica plants by adding 50 μl of a bacterial suspension containing 108 CFU/ml when wounding the leaves with sterile needles. Ten control plants were inoculated with sterilized water. After inoculation, plants were maintained in a growth chamber at 25°C with relative humidity ranging from 80 to 90%. After 2 to 3 days, tissue discoloration, water-soaked lesions, and soft rot developed around the inoculation point. Severe symptoms of soft rot and darkening developed on leaves of inoculated plants within 3 to 5 days after inoculation. All controls remained healthy during these experiments. The bacterial strains re-isolated from the parts of the leaf showing the symptoms and identified as P. carotovorum subsp. carotovorum on the basis of the biochemical and physiological tests, as well as Biolog system. The results obtained for pathogenicity, Biolog analysis, and molecular data corresponded with those for P. carotovorum subsp. carotovorum. To our knowledge, this is the first report of the presence of P. carotovorum on O. japonica in Korea.
References: (1) C.-H. Kim et al. Kor. J. Med. Crop Sci. 11:31, 2003. (2) 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. (3) W. G. Weisburg et al. J. Bacteriol. 173:697, 1991.
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