George W. Sundin, Department of Plant Pathology, Michigan State University, East Lansing, MI 48824;
Nicole A. Werner, Department of Plant Pathology, New York Agricultural Experiment Station, Geneva, NY 14456;
Keith S. Yoder, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University Agricultural Research and Extension Center, Winchester, VA 22602;
Herb S. Aldwinckle, Department of Plant Pathology, New York Agricultural Experiment Station, Geneva, NY 14456
The bacterial antagonists Pseudomonas fluorescens A506, Pantoea agglomerans C9-1, and Pantoea agglomerans E325 and preparations of Bacillus subtilis QST 713 containing bacterial endospores and lipopeptide metabolites were evaluated for efficacy in controlling fire blight in Michigan, New York, and Virginia. When examined individually, the biological control materials were not consistently effective in reducing blossom infection. The average reduction in blossom infection observed in experiments conducted between 2001 and 2007 was variable and ranged from 9.1 to 36.1%, while control with streptomycin was consistent and ranged from 59.0 to 67.3%. Incidence of blossom colonization by the bacterial antagonists was inconsistent, and <60% of stigmata had the antagonists present in 12 of 25 experiments. Consistent control of blossom infection was observed when the biological control materials were integrated into programs with streptomycin, resulting in a reduction of the number of streptomycin applications needed to yield similar levels of control. Our results indicate that the prospects for biological control of fire blight in the eastern United States are currently not high due to the variability in efficacy of existing biological control options.