Institute of Food and Agricultural Technology-CIDSAV-CeRTA, University of Girona, Campus Montilivi, 17071, Girona, Spain
The aggressiveness of an extensive collection of strains of Erwinia amylovora was analyzed using immature fruit and detached pear flower assays under controlled environmental conditions. The analysis was performed by means of a quantitative approach based on fitting data to mathematical models that relate infection incidence to pathogen dose and time. Probit and hyperbolic saturation models were used for disease-dose relationships and provided information on the median effective dose (ED50). Values of ED50 ranged from 103 to 106 CFU/ml (10 to 104 CFU per site of inoculation). A modified Gompertz model was used for disease-time relationships and provided information on the rate of infection incidence progression (rg) and time delayed to start of the incidence progress curve (t0). Values of rg ranged from near 0 to 1.90, and t0 varied from 1.3 to more than 10 days. The more aggressive strains showed high rg, low ED50 values, and short t0, whereas the less aggressive strains showed low rg, high ED50, and long t
0. The aggressiveness was dependent on plant material type and pear cultivars and was significantly different between strains of E. amylovora. Infectivity titration and kinetic analysis of progression of incidence of infections using the immature pear test and a standardized scale are proposed for assessment of strain aggressiveness. The implications of rg, ED50, and t0 for the epidemiology and management of fire blight are discussed, particularly the wide range of aggressiveness among strains, the degree of host specificity observed in pear isolates, the very high infective potential of this pathogen, the independent action of pathogen cells during infection, and the possible advantage of including aggressiveness parameters into fire blight risk forecasting systems.