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Antibiosis Activity of Pantoea agglomerans Biocontrol Strain E325 Against Erwinia amylovora on Apple Flower Stigmas

October 2011 , Volume 101 , Number  10
Pages  1,234 - 1,241

P. L. Pusey, V. O. Stockwell, C. L. Reardon, T. H. M. Smits, and B. Duffy

First and third authors: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service, Tree Fruit Research Laboratory, Wenatchee, WA 98801; second author: Department of Botany and Plant Pathology, Oregon State University, Corvallis, OR 97330; and fourth and fifth authors: Agroscope Changins-Wädenswil ACW, Swiss National Competence Center for Fire Blight, CH-8820 Wädenswil, Switzerland.

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Accepted for publication 8 June 2011.

Pantoea agglomerans E325, the active ingredient in a commercial product for fire blight control, was previously shown in vitro to produce a unique alkaline- and phosphate-sensitive antibiotic specific to Erwinia amylovora. Antibiosis was evaluated as a mode of antagonism on flower stigmas using two antibiosis-deficient mutants. On King's medium B, mutants E325ad1 and E325ad2 have stable smooth-butyrous or hypermucoid colony morphologies, respectively, and the parental strain E325 exhibits phenotypic plasticity with predominantly hypermucoid colonies accompanied by slower-growing, smooth-butyrous colonies. Mutants were tested against E. amylovora on stigmas of detached flowers of crab apple (Malus mandshurica) in growth chambers and apple (Malus domestica) in the orchard. Epiphytic fitness of the antibiosis-negative mutants was similar or greater than the parental strain as determined by relative area under the population curve (RAUPC). In laboratory and orchard trials, both mutants had significantly lower inhibitory activity against the pathogen (i.e., less reduction of E. amylovora RAUPC) compared with the parental strain. E325 and the mutants caused similar decreases in pH in a broth medium, indicating that acidification, which was previously reported as a possible mechanism of pathogen inhibition on stigmas, is not directly related to antibiosis. In this study we provide the first evidence for E325 antibiosis involved in E. amylovora growth suppression on apple flower stigmas.

This article is in the public domain and not copyrightable. It may be freely reprinted with customary crediting of the source. The American Phytopathological Society, 2011.