J. M. F.
Biological Scientist, University of Florida, IFAS, Central Florida Research and Education Center, 2807 Binion Rd., Apopka, FL 32703
Senior Biological Scientist, Department of Plant Pathology, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL 32611
From dark, water-soaked lesions on stems of asparagus tree fern (Asparagus virgatus) in commercial nurseries in Florida, 33 xanthomonad strains were isolated. Strains formed large, round, butyrus, bright yellow colonies on yeast dextrose calcium carbonate medium, and were gram negative, oxidase negative, catalase positive, motile, strictly aerobic, and did not hydrolyze starch. Strains were further characterized by carbon substrate utilization patterns (Biolog), and by fatty acid methyl esters (FAME) analyses. The metabolic fingerprints of most strains were similar to Xanthomonas campestris pv. vitians, and X. campestris pv. dieffenbachiae from Xanthosoma or Syngonium. Representative strains from A. virgatus were not pathogenic on Dieffenbachia. X. campestris pv. dieffenbachiae strains that did not hydrolyze starch produced scattered lesions on A. virgatus stems. However, starch-hydrolyzing strains of X. campestris pv. dieffenbachiae did not produce symptoms when inoculated onto A. virgatus. FAME analysis indicated the strains were X. campestris pv. vitians or X. campestris pv. translucens; however, low similarity indices ( x = 0.461) indicated that the asparagus strains were not represented in the MIDI library database. FAME analysis profiles were also compared to the University of Florida database, which contains 1,048 X. campestris strains of which 200 are X. campestris pv. dieffenbachiae. Similarity indices were again low with 15 strains matched to X. campestris pv. secalis (x = 0.412), seven strains to X. fragariae (x = 0.224), six strains to X. campestris pv. translucens ( x = 0.437), and five strains matched < 0.20 to other pathovars. Five representative strains were tested on six Asparagus species or cultivars: A. virgatus, A. setaceus, A. macowanii, A. densiflorus ‘Sprengeri’ , A. densiflorus ‘Myers’, and A. officinalis. All five strains were pathogenic on A. virgatus but were less virulent on A. setaceus and A. densiflorus ‘Sprengeri’.