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Association of Enterobacter cloacae with Rhizome Rot of Edible Ginger in Hawaii

December 2004 , Volume 88 , Number  12
Pages  1,318 - 1,327

K. A. Nishijima , Pacific Basin Agricultural Research Center (PBARC), USDA-ARS, P.O. Box 4459, Hilo, HI 96720 ; A. M. Alvarez , University of Hawaii-Manoa, Honolulu 96822 ; P. R. Hepperly , PBARC, USDA-ARS, Hilo, HI ; M. H. Shintaku , University of Hawaii-Hilo, College of Agriculture, Forestry & Natural Resource Management, Hilo 96720 ; L. M. Keith , PBARC, USDA-ARS, Hilo, HI ; D. M. Sato and B. C. Bushe , University of Hawaii-Cooperative Extension Service, Hilo 96720 ; and J. W. Armstrong and F. T. Zee , PBARC, USDA-ARS, Hilo, HI

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Accepted for publication 17 July 2004.

Edible ginger is a popular spice crop that is grown in Hawaii primarily for the fresh market, and as such, rhizome quality is of paramount importance. In our studies, a Gram-negative, facultative anaerobic, rod-shaped bacterium was consistently isolated from decayed as well as symptomless ginger rhizomes. The bacterium was identified as Enterobacter cloacae by biochemical assays and 16S rDNA sequence analysis. Rot symptoms, which usually occurred in the central cylinder of the rhizome, were characterized by yellowish-brown to brown discolored tissue and firm to spongy texture. In inoculation experiments, ginger strains of E. cloacae produced basal stem and root rot, with foliar chlorosis and necrosis in tissue-cultured ginger plantlets, and discolored and spongy tissue in mature ginger rhizome slices and whole segments. In other hosts, ginger strains of E. cloacae caused internal yellowing of ripe papaya fruit and internal rot of onion bulbs. All strains that caused symptoms in inoculated plants were reisolated and identified as E. cloacae. Our studies suggest that E. cloacae can exist as an endophyte of ginger rhizomes, and under conditions that are favorable for bacterial growth, or host susceptibility, including maturity of tissues, rhizome rot may occur. Rhizome quality may be impacted by the presence of E. cloacae under conditions such as high temperature, high relative humidity, and low oxygen atmosphere that may affect the development of decay, and such conditions should be avoided during post-harvest handling and storage. The association of E. cloacae with a rhizome rot of ginger is a new finding.

Additional keywords: bacterial wilt, Enterobacteriaceae, extracellular polysaccharide (EPS), modified atmosphere packaging, Ralstonia solanacearum

The American Phytopathological Society, 2004