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Polyphasic Characterization of Xanthomonas axonopodis pv. allii Associated with Outbreaks of Bacterial Blight on Three Allium Species in the Mascarene Archipelago

August 2008 , Volume 98 , Number  8
Pages  919 - 925

Y. Picard, P. Roumagnac, D. Legrand, L. Humeau, I. Robène-Soustrade, F. Chiroleu, L. Gagnevin, and O. Pruvost

CIRAD, UMR Peuplements Végétaux et Bioagresseurs en Milieu Tropical CIRAD-Université de la Réunion, Pôle de Protection des Plantes, 7, chemin de l'Irat, 97410 Saint Pierre, La Réunion, France.

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Accepted for publication 15 April 2008.

Based on the number of new reports during the last two decades, bacterial blight of onion (Allium cepa) is considered an emerging disease. The causal agent, Xanthomonas axonopodis pv. allii, is pathogenic to several Allium species after inoculation, but outbreaks worldwide have been primarily reported on onion. We describe a unique epidemiological situation in Réunion Island, France, with concomitant outbreaks on three Allium species, onion, leek (A. porrum), and garlic (A. sativum). There was no host specialization within Allium spp. among strains associated with the three host species. Based on amplified fragment length polymorphism (AFLP) and restriction fragment length polymorphism, strains associated with these outbreaks in Réunion Island were highly related genetically to strains isolated from diseased plant samples and contaminated seed lots in the neighboring island of Mauritius, where the disease has occurred since 1984. All AFLP haplotypes were identified as X. axonopodis pv. allii based on polymerase chain reaction analysis using specific primers, biochemical tests, and/or pathogenicity tests. Two genetically related groups of strains (A and B) that can be distinguished by AFLP, differential utilization of three carbon sources, and xanthomonadin pigment production were detected initially after establishment of the pathogen. In less than 10 years after the establishment of the pathogen there was nearly an extinction of group A strains in Réunion Island, suggesting differences in fitness between strains in the two groups.

Additional keywords:emerging pathogen, in planta growth rates, seed transmission.

© 2008 The American Phytopathological Society