E. Derso, Ethiopian Institute of Agricultural Research, Department of Crop Protection, Debre Zeit Research Center, Debre Zeit, Ethiopia; and
C. Vernière and
O. Pruvost, CIRAD-Université de la Réunion, UMR PVBMT, Saint Pierre, La Réunion, F-97410 France
Asiatic citrus canker caused by Xanthomonas citri pv. citri hinders national citrus markets in tropical and subtropical areas and international trade. The bacterium induces erumpent, callus-like lesions causing defoliation, premature fruit drop, and twig dieback. Because of the damage caused by infection and reduced marketability of fruit, several countries have undergone eradication. Strains with different host ranges have been described. Pathotype A strains are the most widespread and produce canker in a wide range of citrus species. Pathotype A* strains with a host range restricted to Mexican lime (Citrus aurantifolia), Tahiti lime (C. latifolia), and alemow (C. macrophylla), but not infecting the susceptible species grapefruit (C. paradisi), were described in different areas of Asia (4). Reemergence of X. citri pv. citri pathotype A was recently described in Africa as affecting citrus production in Mali and Somalia. Canker-like infected citrus trees with symptoms on leaves, fruits, and stems were first observed in 2004 in Ethiopia in the Rift Valley Region. After a survey conducted in 2008, the disease was recorded in different areas of the Rift Valley located in the lowlands (altitude <1300 m, daily mean temperatures 24 to 29°C) and confirmed to only affect Mexican lime orchards with disease incidence as much as 80%. Ten canker-like infected leaves were collected during this survey from eight different orchards distributed along the infected area. Isolations were performed using KC semiselective medium (3), and Xanthomonas-like isolates were further characterized. PCR was used to check the identity of these isolates by using X. citri pv. citri strain CFBP 2525 from New Zealand as the positive control and distilled water as the template for the negative control. The DNA fragment typical of X. citri pv. citri was obtained from all the bacterial isolates using the diagnostic primer pair 4/7 (2). Amplified fragment length polymorphism (AFLP) analysis of the 80 Ethiopian isolates and additional reference isolates from X. citri pv. citri-A, -A*, and pv. aurantifolii using SacI/MspI and four primer pairs (unlabeled MspI + 1 [A, C, T, or G] primers and 5′-labeled-SacI + C primer for the selective amplification step) (1) grouped all the Ethiopian isolates in a cluster that was comprised of only X. citri pv. citri pathotype A* strains. On the basis of the AFLP, Ethiopian isolates were only distantly related to X. citri pv. aurantifolii. When inoculated to Mexican lime and Duncan grapefruit by a detached leaf assay (4), all of the Ethiopian strains produced canker on lime only. This confirms the larger geographical distribution of pathotype A*, and to our knowledge, is the first report of its presence on the African continent. This could allow studying the epidemiology of pathotype A* strains in a unique situation where they do not compete with pathotype A strains. The molecular characterization of Ethiopian strains suggests that this introduction event is not related to the recent introduction of citrus canker in neighboring Somalia where X. citri pv. citri pathotype A was identified. Ethiopia will have to prevent the introduction of this wide host range pathotype to avoid further negative impacts on citrus production.
References: (1) N. Ah-You et al. Phytopathology 97:1568, 2007. (2) J. S. Hartung et al. Phytopathology 86:95, 1996. (3) O. Pruvost et al. J. Appl. Microbiol. 99:803, 2005. (4) C. Vernière et al. Eur. J. Plant Pathol. 104:477, 1998.