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Establishment of Bacterial Antagonists of Erwinia amylovora on Pear and Apple Blossoms as Influenced by Inoculum Preparation

June 1998 , Volume 88 , Number  6
Pages  506 - 513

V. O. Stockwell , K. B. Johnson , and J. E. Loper

First and third authors: USDA-ARS Horticultural Crops Research Laboratory, Corvallis, OR 97330; and second author: Department of Botany and Plant Pathology, Oregon State University, Corvallis 97331-2902

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Accepted for publication 13 February 1998.

The influence of inoculum preparation on the establishment of bacterial antagonists that suppress fire blight and Erwinia amylovora on blossoms was evaluated. Aqueous suspensions of Pseudomonas fluorescens A506, E. herbicola C9-1R, or E. amylovora 153N were prepared from cells harvested from the surface of an agar medium or from cells that were lyophilized after culture under similar conditions. Bacterial suspensions (1 × 108 CFU/ml) were sprayed on pear and apple trees at 50% bloom near midday. The incidence of recovery (proportion of blossoms containing detectable populations) and the population sizes of the bacteria on individual blossoms with detectable populations were followed over a period of several days. Fluorescent microspheres (1 μm in diameter) were added to sprays at a concentration of 1 × 107 microspheres per ml to mark blossoms that were open during application of bacteria. After dilution-plating, the stigmas and styles of each blossom were examined for the presence of microspheres with an epifluorescence microscope. In three of five trials, bacteria applied as suspensions of lyophilized cells were recovered from a greater proportion of blossoms than bacterial cells harvested directly from culture media. Every blossom harvested within 6 days after spraying had microspheres present on the surfaces of the styles and stigmas; thus, lack of establishment of detectable populations, rather than escape of blossoms from spray inoculation, accounted for the differences in proportion of blossoms colonized by the different preparations of bacteria. The use of lyophilized cells in field trials decreased variability in the establishment of bacteria on blossoms.

Additional keywords: biological control .

The American Phytopathological Society, 1998