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Occurrence of Bacterial Stem Rot, Caused by Erwinia chrysanthemi, on Field-Grown Tomato in Florida

July 1998 , Volume 82 , Number  7
Pages  831.3 - 831.3

D. O. Chellemi , USDA-ARS, Horticultural Research Laboratory, Ft. Pierce, FL 34945 ; H. A. Dankers and K. Hill , University of Florida-IFAS, NFREC, Quincy 32351 ; R. E. Cullen , G. W. Simone , and M. D. Gooch , University of Florida-IFAS, Plant Pathology Department, Gainesville 32611 ; and J. E. Allingham , Agricare, Inc., Stuart, FL 34997

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Accepted for publication 6 May 1998.

In September 1997, wilted 4-week-old tomato (Lycopersicon esculentum Mill.) plants were observed in a commercial production field in St. Lucie County, FL. Closer inspection of affected plants revealed hollow stems and petioles with dark, water-soaked lesions. Diseased tissue was macerated and streaked onto nutrient agar (NA) and crystal violet pectate (CVP) agar. After incubation for 2 days at 30°C, isolates produced pits on the CVP agar. Isolates were transferred onto NA and the incubation and transfer procedure was performed two additional times to obtain pure cultures. Suspensions of bacterial cells were injected into tomato and tobacco leaves to test for a hypersensitive or pathogenic reaction. Isolates produced collapsed necrotic tissue on tomato while no reaction was observed on tobacco. Tests for differentiating species and subspecies in the ‘carotovora’ group of Erwinia were conducted following the protocol of Dickey and Kelman (1). With known cultures of E. carotovora subsp. carotovora and E. chrysanthemi as controls, the isolate from tomato was determined to function as a facultative anaerobe, utilize asparagine as a sole source of carbon and nitrogen, and give positive reactions for pectate degradation, phosphatase, and growth at 37°C. Known cultures of E. carotovora subsp. carotovora, E. chrysanthemi, and the tomato isolate were grown on trypticase soy broth agar for 24 h at 28°C and their cellular fatty acids derivatized to fatty acid methyl esters (FAMEs). Statistical analyses of FAME profile data (MIDI Microbial Identification System, Newark, DE, version 3.60) identified the tomato isolate as Erwinia chrysanthemi. Pathogenicity was determined by inoculating 50-day-old tomato plants (cv. SunPride) with a suspension of E. chrysanthemi obtained from nutrient broth plates incubated at 24°C for 60 h. Three plants each were inoculated with the E. chrysanthemi identified from tomato, sterile water, and known cultures of E. chrysanthemi and E. carotovora subsp. carotovora by placing a drop at the junction of the petiole and stem and passing a sterile needle through the drop into the stem. Plants were maintained in a greenhouse. Dark, water-soaked cankers were observed on the stems of plants inoculated with E. chrysanthemi, including the tomato isolate and E. carotovora subsp. carotovora, after 7 days. No symptoms were observed on plants inoculated with sterile water. Reisolation of the pathogen and identification was performed with tissue from one of the symptomatic inoculated plants. Analyses of FAMEs confirmed E. chrysanthemi as the causal agent. This is the first report of E. chrysanthemi causing a vascular disease of field-grown tomato in Florida.

Reference: (1) R. S. Dickey and A. Kelman. 1988. Pages 44--59 in: Laboratory Guide for Identification of Plant Pathogenic Bacteria. N. W. Schaad, ed. American Phytopathological Society, St. Paul, MN.

© 1998 The American Phytopathological Society