University of Massachusetts, Department of Plant Pathology, Amherst 01103
USDA-ARS, Lane, OK 74555
Department of Entomology and Plant Pathology, U. Melcher, Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Oklahoma State University, Stillwater 74078
Texas Agricultural Experiment Station, Stephenville 76401
USDA-ARS, Lane, OK 74555
Commercial plantings of summer squash in Charlemont, Franklin County, MA, were decimated in 1999 by 100% incidence of a yellowing disease resembling cucurbit yellow vine disease (CYVD) (1). Both plantings were established in the same field during the third week of May, one with transplants and the second by direct-seeding. Each planting consisted of four 30-m rows each of yellow zucchini (Cucurbita pepo cv. Gold Rush), summer squash (C. pepo cv. Seneca Prolific), and zucchini (C. pepo cv. Condor). Crops were produced organically and pyrethrum was used to control a high infestation of squash bugs, Anasa tristis (De Geer) (Heteroptera:Coreidae), a putative vector of CYVD (3). Just prior to fruit set, during the first two weeks of June, plants began showing symptoms of foliar chlorosis, plant stunting, or both. All of the plants in the field eventually wilted and collapsed. Cross-sections of the below-ground stem and primary root revealed a honey-brown phloem discoloration and healthy appearing xylem, symptoms characteristic of CYVD. Plants yielded marketable fruit for only about 1 week. When plant samples were tested by polymerase chain reaction (PCR) with CYVD bacterium specific primers (2), a band of the expected size for the CYVD bacterium, identified as Serratia marcescens based on 16s rDNA and groE sequence analyses (4), was amplified in every case. Since all plant samples collected were symptomatic and PCR positive for S. marcescens, asymptomatic greenhouse plants were run simultaneously as a control. All control plants tested negative. A third planting, similar to the two disease-affected plantings and containing the same three squash cultivars from the same seed lot, was established at about the same time approximately 3 km away. No symptoms of CYVD occurred at this site, further evidence that the pathogen is not seed-borne (1). Furthermore, squash bugs were not observed in this field. In 2000, the disease was observed in a planting of ‘Atlantic Giant’ pumpkin in Erving, Franklin County, MA, and confirmed by PCR. Until now, CYVD has been reported only in the states of Oklahoma, Texas, and Tennessee. Confirmation of the disease in Massachusetts significantly increases the known geographical range of CYVD to include the New England area.
References: (1) B. D. Bruton et al. Plant Dis. 82:512--520, 1998. (2) U. Melcher et al. Phytopathology 89:S95, 1999. (3) S. D. Pair et al. Pages 145--148 in: Proc. 19th Ann. Hort. Conf., Okla. State Univ. (4) J. Rascoe et al. Phytopathology 90:S63, 2000.