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Epiphytic Colonization of Pear Stigmas and Hypanthia by Bacteria During Primary Bloom

December 1999 , Volume 89 , Number  12
Pages  1,162 - 1,168

V. O. Stockwell , R. J. McLaughlin , M. D. Henkels , J. E. Loper , D. Sugar , and R. G. Roberts

First, third, and fourth authors: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service, Horticultural Crops Research Laboratory, Corvallis, OR 97330; second and sixth authors: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service, Tree Fruit Research Laboratory, Wenatchee, WA 98801; fifth author: Oregon State University, Southern Oregon Research and Extension Center, Medford 97502

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Accepted for publication 2 August 1999.

Pear blossoms were sampled during various stages of bloom in 1991 and 1992 from orchards at Cashmere, WA, and Corvallis and Medford, OR, for epiphytic populations of culturable bacteria. On stigmatic surfaces, bacteria were isolated from 2 to 32% of blossoms prior to petal expansion and from 47 to 94% of blossoms by petal fall. In general, a lower percentage of hypanthia than stigmas supported bacterial populations. Randomly selected bacteria isolated at population levels of ≥104 CFU/tissue were identified by fatty acid methyl ester analysis. Diverse genera of gram-negative and -positive bacteria were identified from the Medford and Cashmere field sites. Pseudomonas syringae and Pseudomonas viri-diflava were isolated from all sites and were the predominant species detected at Corvallis, where they were isolated from 28% of the blossoms sampled on a given date. Because most pear blossoms do not support detectable populations (≥102 CFU/tissue) of culturable bacteria prior to petal expansion, we speculate that introduced biocontrol agents may become established with minimal competition from indigenous epiphytes at early bloom stages.

Additional keywords: biological control, Erwinia amylovora, fire blight, microbialecology, Pyrus spp.

The American Phytopathological Society, 1999