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Association of a Phloem-Limited Bacterium with Yellow Vine Disease in Cucurbits

May 1998 , Volume 82 , Number  5
Pages  512 - 520

B. D. Bruton , United States Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service (USDA-ARS), Lane, Oklahoma 74555 ; J. Fletcher , Department of Plant Pathology, Oklahoma State University, Stillwater 74078 ; S. D. Pair , USDA-ARS ; M. Shaw , Department of Plant Pathology, Oklahoma State University ; H. Sittertz-Bhatkar , Electron Microscopy Center, Texas A&M University, College Station 77843

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Accepted for publication 29 January 1998.

Since 1991, a new disease of cucurbits in central Texas and Oklahoma, designated yellow vine, has resulted in the decline and plant death of watermelon, cantaloupe, squash, and pumpkin. Affected plants are characterized by leaf yellowing, phloem discoloration, and plant collapse. Year-to-year variation in disease incidence has ranged from spotty outbreaks to complete crop loss in early-planted watermelon fields. A systematic investigation to determine the causal agent of the disease included pathogen isolation attempts, transmission tests, serological assays with various antisera (enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay and Western blotting), and DNA hybridizations with selected probes (dot and Southern blots). None of these tests revealed a consistent relationship between the expression of yellow vine symptoms and the presence of a particular microorganism or virus in the plant. However, transmission electron microscopic examination showed the consistent presence of a bacterium in the phloem sieve elements of symptomatic plants. The rod-shaped bacteria, observed only in symptomatic cucurbits, measured 0.25 to 0.5 μm in width and 1.0 to 3.0 μm in length and were surrounded by a triple-layered cell envelope.

Additional keywords: Citrullus lanatus, Cucumis melo, Cucurbita spp., insect, vine decline

The American Phytopathological Society, 1998