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First Report of Seedling Blight of Watermelon Caused by Acidovorax citrulli Transmitted from Rootstock of Pumpkin in China

March 2013 , Volume 97 , Number  3
Pages  420.2 - 420.2

Y. L. Tian , College of Plant Protection and Key Laboratory of Integrated Management of Crop Diseases and Pests, Ministry of Education, Nanjing Agricultural University, Nanjing 210095, China ; Y. Q. Zhao , Shanghai Agricultural Technology Extension and Service Center; Shanghai 201103, China ; and B. S. Hu and F. Q. Liu , College of Plant Protection and Key Laboratory of Integrated Management of Crop Diseases and Pests, Ministry of Education, Nanjing Agricultural University, Nanjing 210095, China and National Engineering Research Center For Cucurbits, Changji 831100, China

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Accepted for publication 6 November 2012.

Bacterial fruit blotch (BFB) is a devastating disease caused by Acidovorax citrulli, which was first observed in the United States in 1988 (3). A. citrulli can cause severe infection on a wide range of cucurbits, including watermelon, cantaloupe, and pumpkin. Cotyledon symptoms are brown, angular, necrotic spots or large necrotic lesions. The disease is seedborne, so seeds usually serve as the primary inoculum source for BFB outbreaks (2). In July 2012, seedling blight was observed by local farmers from Anhui province in China on watermelon seedlings grafted to pumpkin rootstocks; lesions were morphologically similar to those caused by A. citrulli. Presence of A. citrulli was detected in symptomatic samples by using species-specific primers BX-L1/BX-S-R2 (1). The seed company claimed seeds of watermelon (cv. Changfeng) were certified free of bacterial fruit blotch, but pumpkin seeds (cv. Kangkuxianfeng-1) had not been tested for A. citrulli. For investigating the inoculum source, the remaining seeds of watermelon (cv. Changfeng) and pumpkin (cv. Kangkuxianfeng-1) for seedling production were collected from the farmer and processed for pathogen extraction as described by Walcott and Gitaitis (2). Two microliters of seed wash was used as template for PCR using primers BX-L1/BX-S-R2 (1). The experiment was conducted three times. A 279-bp DNA fragment was consistently amplified by PCR from seed wash of pumpkin seeds, but not from the seed wash of watermelon seeds. Three Acidovorax-like strains (A1, A2, and A3) were isolated from pumpkin seed wash using TWZ semi-selective medium (0.5% peptone, 0.025% CaCl2, 1% Tween-80, 50 mg/liter berberine, 50 mg/liter cycloheximide, 50 mg/liter 2,3,5-triphenyltetrazolium chloride). PCR was performed on the 16S rDNA gene from isolate strain A1, A2, and A3 (1,492 bp; GenBank Accession Nos. JX875533, JX875534, and JX875535) with primers rp1/fd2 (4), and PCR products were sequenced. Results of sequence analysis showed the sequences of strains A1, A2, and A3 were 99% identical to that of the type strain of A. citrulli AAC00-1 (NC_008752). Pathogencity was confirmed by injection of pumpkin cotyledons with bacterial suspensions of each isolate. Collected pumpkin seeds (n = 100 seeds) and watermelon seeds (n = 100 seeds) were planted in plastic pots containing sterilized field soil at room temperature to detect A. citrulli by a wet chamber growing out test. Eight days later, brown, angular, necrotic spots or wilt developed in pumpkin seedlings, but no symptoms were noted on the watermelon seedlings. To our knowledge, this is the first report of A. citrulli causing watermelon seedling blight transmitted from pumpkin seeds by grafting in China.

References: (1) O. Bahar et al. Plant Pathol. 57:754, 2008. (2) R. R. Walcott and R. D. Gitaitis. Plant Dis. 84:470, 2000. (3) G. C. Wall et al. Phytopathology 78:1605, 1988. (4) W. G. Weisburg et al. J. Bacteriol. 173:697, 1991.

© 2013 The American Phytopathological Society