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Bacterial Canker on Kiwifruit in Italy: Anatomical Changes in the Wood and in the Primary Infection Sites

September 2012 , Volume 102 , Number  9
Pages  827 - 840

Marsilio Renzi, Paul Copini, Anna R. Taddei, Antonio Rossetti, Lorenzo Gallipoli, Angelo Mazzaglia, and Giorgio M. Balestra

First, fourth, fifth, sixth, and seventh authors: Dipartimento di Scienze e Tecnologie per l'Agricoltura, le Foreste, la Natura e l'Energia (DAFNE), Università della Tuscia, 01100 Viterbo, Italy second author: Forest Ecology and Forest Management Group, Centre for Ecosystem Studies, Wageningen University, P.O. Box 47, 6700AA Wageningen, The Netherlands; and third author: Centro Interdipartmento di Microscopia Elettronica (CIME), Università della Tuscia, 01100 Viterbo, Italy.

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Accepted for publication 27 May 2012.

The bacterial canker of kiwifruit caused by Pseudomonas syringae pv. actinidiae is a severe threat to kiwifruit production worldwide. Many aspects of P. syringae pv. actinidiae biology and epidemiology still require in-depth investigation. The infection by and spread of P. syringae pv. actinidiae in xylem and phloem was investigated by carrying out artificial inoculation experiments with histological and dendrochronological analyses of naturally diseased plants in Italy. We found that the bacterium can infect host plants by entering natural openings and lesions. In naturally infected kiwifruit plants, P. syringae pv. actinidiae is present in the lenticels as well as in the dead phloem tissue beneath the lenticels, surrounded by a lesion in the periderm which appears to indicate the importance of lenticels to kiwifruit infection. Biofilm formation was observed outside and inside plants. In cases of advanced stages of P. syringae pv. actinidiae infection, neuroses of the phloem occur, which are followed by cambial dieback and most likely by infection of the xylem. Anatomical changes in wood such as reduced ring width, a drastic reduction in vessel size, and the presence of tyloses were observed within several infected sites. In the field, these changes occur only a year after the first leaf symptoms are observed suggesting a significant time lapse between primary and secondary symptoms. It was possible to study the temporal development of P. syringae pv. actinidiae-induced cambial dieback by applying dendrochronology methods which revealed that cambial dieback occurs only during the growing season.

© 2012 The American Phytopathological Society