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Temperature and Pomaceous Flower Age Related to Colonization by Erwinia amylovora and Antagonists

August 2004 , Volume 94 , Number  8
Pages  901 - 911

P. L. Pusey and E. A. Curry

U.S. Department of Agriculture-Agricultural Research Service, Tree Fruit Research Laboratory, Wenatchee, WA 98801

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Accepted for publication 6 April 2004.

Fire blight of apple and pear is initiated by epiphytic populations of Erwinia amylovora on flower stigmas. Predicting this disease and managing it with microbial antagonists depends on an understanding of bacterial colonization on stigmas. Detached ‘Manchurian’ crab apple flowers were inoculated with E. amylovora and subjected to a range of constant temperatures or various fluctuating temperature regimes. Results may have application to disease risk assessment systems such as the Cougarblight model, which now are based on in vitro growth of the pathogen. In other experiments, detached crab apple flowers and attached ‘Gala’ apple flowers were maintained at different temperatures for various periods before inoculation with E. amylovora or antagonists (Pseudomonas fluorescens strain A506 and Pantoea agglomerans strains C9-1 and E325). Maximum stigma age supporting bacterial multiplication decreased as temperature increased, and was reduced by pollination. Stigmas were receptive to bacteria at ages older than previously reported, probably due to less interference from indigenous organisms. The study revealed antagonist limitations that possibly affect field performance (e.g., the inability of strain A506 to grow on relatively old stigmas conducive to the pathogen). Such deficiencies could be overcome by selecting other antagonists or using antagonist mixtures in the orchard.

Additional keywords: biological control, Malus × domestica.

The American Phytopathological Society, 2004