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Occurrence of Indole-3-Acetic Acid-Producing Bacteria on Pear Trees and Their Association with Fruit Russet

November 1998 , Volume 88 , Number  11
Pages  1,149 - 1,157

Steven E. Lindow , Caroline Desurmont , Rachel Elkins , Glenn McGourty , Ellen Clark , and Maria T. Brandl

First, second, fifth, and sixth authors: Department of Plant and Microbial Biology, University of California, Berkeley 94720-3201; third author: University of California, Cooperative Extension, Lake County, 883 Lakeport Blvd., Lakeport 95453; and fourth author: University of California, Cooperative Extension, Mendocino County, 579 Low Gap Road, Ukiah 95482

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A relatively high percentage of epiphytic bacteria on pear leaf and fruit surfaces had the ability to produce indole-3-acetic acid (IAA) in culture media supplemented with tryptophan. While over 50% of the strains produced at least small amounts of IAA in culture, about 25% of the strains exhibited high IAA production as evidenced by both colorimetric and high-performance liquid chromatography analysis of culture supernatants. A majority of the strains that produced high amounts of IAA were identified as Erwinia herbicola (Pantoea agglomerans), while some strains of Pseudomonas syringae, Pseudomonas viridiflava, Pseudomonas fluorescens, Pseudomonas putida, and Rahnella aquaticus that produced high amounts of IAA also were found on pear. Fruit russeting was significantly increased in 39 out of 46 trials over an 8-year period in which IAA-producing bacteria were applied to trees compared with control trees. A linear relationship was observed between fruit russet severity and the logarithm of the population size of different IAA-producing bacteria on trees in the 30 days after inoculation, when normalized for the amount of IAA produced by each strain in culture. On average, the severity of fruit russet was only about 77% that on control trees when trees were treated at the time of bloom with Pseudomonas fluorescens strain A506, which does not produce IAA. Both total bacterial populations on pear in the 30-day period following full bloom and fruit russet severity varied greatly from year to year and in different commercial orchards over a 10-year period. There was a strong linear correlation between the logarithm of total bacterial population sizes and fruit russet severity.

Additional keywords: auxin , biological control , epiphytes , lenticel .

© 1998 The American Phytopathological Society