Queensland Horticulture Institute, Centre for Vegetable Crops, LMB 7, MS 437, Warrego Hwy, Gatton, Qld. 4343, Australia
Queensland Horticulture Institute, Indooroopilly Sciences Centre, 80 Meiers Road, Indooroopilly, Qld. 4068, Australia
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Accepted for publication 12 March 2004.
Many Australian pepper producers have reported poor control of bacterial spot of pepper (caused by Xanthomonas campestris pv. vesicatoria) despite using copper bactericides at recommended rates. This prompted us to investigate whether copper-tolerant strains of the pathogen are present in Australia and whether they are a contributing factor to poor control. We screened strains of X. campestris pv. vesicatoria in the laboratory, in broths containing different concentrations of CuSO4, and established the maximum copper concentration at which each strain could grow. About one in four strains (75 total) collected between 1999 and 2000 tolerated ≥1.0 mM CuSO4 and could be considered copper tolerant. Only one strain (of 12) collected before 1987 could tolerate 1.0 mM, and comparison of the two populations by fitting regression models revealed that the mortality of strains in the two populations differed significantly across all concentrations of copper. It was necessary to apply higher rates of copper to strains collected between 1999 and 2000 to achieve mortality levels equivalent to those in the older population. This is strong evidence that the prevalence of copper-tolerant strains has increased in Australian populations. We also assessed whether copper-tolerant strains may increase substantially in a field population of X. campestris pv. vesicatoria when copper is repeatedly sprayed. In the field, the proportion of copper-tolerant strains increased after 12 weekly sprays of copper, and they were very prevalent in the population after 21 sprays. This is the first report of copper tolerance in Australian populations of X. campestris pv. vesicatoria.
The American Phytopathological Society, 2004