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Antibiosis and Acidification by Pantoea agglomerans Strain E325 May Contribute to Suppression of Erwinia amylovora

October 2008 , Volume 98 , Number  10
Pages  1,136 - 1,143

P. L. Pusey, V. O. Stockwell, and D. R. Rudell

First and third authors: U.S. Department of Agriculture-Agricultural Research Service, Tree Fruit Research Laboratory, Wenatchee, WA 98801; and second author: Department of Botany and Plant Pathology, Oregon State University, Corvallis 97330.

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Accepted for publication 1 July 2008.

Pantoea agglomerans strain E325, a commercially available antagonist for fire blight of apple and pear, was originally selected through screening based on suppression of Erwinia amylovora on flower stigmas, but specific mechanisms of antagonism were unknown. Bacterial modification of pH was evaluated as a possible mechanism by analyzing stigma exudates extracted from ‘Gala’ apple stigmas. The pH values for field samples were only slightly lower than controls, but indicated a range (pH 5 to 6) conducive for antibiotic activity according to subsequent assays. Under low-phosphate and low-pH conditions, an antibacterial product of E325 with high specificity to E. amylovora was effective at low concentrations. A minimum of 20 to 40 ng of a ninhydrin-reactive compound purified using RP-HPLC caused visible inhibition in assays. Activity was heat stable and unaffected by amino acids, iron, or enzymes known to affect antibiotics of P. agglomerans. Antibiosis was diminished, however, under basic conditions, and with increasing phosphate concentrations at pH 6 and 7. Inhibition was not observed in media containing phosphate concentrations commonly used in antibiosis assays. We propose that E325 suppresses the fire blight pathogen not only by competing for nutrients on the stigma, but by producing an antibiotic specific to E. amylovora. Further work is necessary to substantiate that the compound is produced and active on flower stigmas.

Additional keywords:Malus pumila.

The American Phytopathological Society, 2008