Department of Plant Pathology, 4315 Miller Plant Sciences, The University of Georgia, Athens 30602
The efficacy of biological control seed treatments with Pseudomonas fluorescens (A506), Acidovorax avenae subsp. avenae (AAA 99-2), and an unidentified gram-positive bacterium recovered from watermelon seed (WS-1) was evaluated for the management of bacterial fruit blotch (BFB) of watermelon. In growth chamber and greenhouse experiments, seed treated with AAA 99-2 displayed superior disease suppression, reducing BFB transmission by 96.5%. AAA 99-2, P. fluorescens A506, and Kocide also suppressed the epiphytic growth of A. avenae subsp. citrulli when applied to attached watermelon blossoms 5 h prior to inoculation. Watermelon blossom protection reduced seed infestation by A. avenae subsp. citrulli. From blossoms treated with 0.1 M phosphate buffered saline (PBS), 63% of the resulting seed lots were infested with A. avenae subsp. citrulli. In contrast, for blossoms protected with WS-1, Kocide, P. fluorescens A506, and AAA 99-2, the proportion of infested seed lots were 48.3, 21.1, 24.1, and 13.8%, respectively. The effect of blossom treatments on seed lot infestation was statistically significant (P = 0.001) but WS-1 was not significantly different from PBS. These findings suggest that blossom protection with biological control agents could be a feasible option for managing BFB.