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First Report of Crown Gall, Caused by Agrobacterium tumefaciens on Soapberry (Sapindus delavayi) in China

May 2013 , Volume 97 , Number  5
Pages  685.2 - 685.2

Y. J. Wang, Y. Y. He, and Z. Xie, Department of Forest Protection, School of Forestry and Biotechnology, Zhejiang Agricultural and Forestry University, Lin'An, 311300, China; and L. Q. Zhang, Provincial Engineering Laboratory of Biopesticide Preparation, Zhejiang Province, Lin'An 311300, P.R. China

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Accepted for publication 5 December 2012.

Soapberry (Sapindus delavayi (Franch.) Radlk.,) plants are widely grown as shade trees in the subtropical to tropical regions of China. In July 2011, large, aerial galls were observed on the above-ground trunks of 5-year-old soapberry plants in two commercial nursery gardens located in Zhejiang Province. Disease incidence was estimated to be 75%. The galls varied in weight from 2 to 24 g and in texture from soft and spongy to hard, and in some cases, the galls completely girdled the trunk. The trees with galls exhibited poor growth compared with healthy trees. Isolations from the grinded and macerated galls yielded nearly pure white, circular, and glistening bacterial colonies on Roy Sauer medium (2). Six random colonies from different galls were selected for bacterial identification, and showed the same morphological, physiological, and biochemical characters and 16S rDNA sequences. All six isolates (isolate SD01 to SD06) were gram negative, rod-shaped bacteria. Carbon source utilization testing with the Biolog GN Bacterial Identification System (version 3.50) confirmed the bacteria as Agrobacterium tumefaciens with a similarity of 0.90. The most-parsimonious tree from the maximum parsimony analysis (PHYLIP package, version 3.68, 500 replicates) of bacterial 16S rDNA gene sequences showed that A. tumefaciens SD01 (GenBank Accession No. JX997939) clustered phylogenetically most closely (99.5% similarity) with A. tumefaciens C58 (AE007870.2). Pathogenicity was confirmed by injecting 3- to 5-week old tomato and sunflower plants and 2-year-old soapberry with approximately 5 μl of the bacterial suspension (108 CFU/ml) in sterile, distilled water. Sterile distilled water was used as a negative control. Ten plants of each treatment were inoculated. Inoculated plants were then transferred to a greenhouse at 25°C. Typical tumors developed at the inoculation sites on tomatoes and sunflower plants 3 weeks after inoculation and on soapberry 6 weeks after inoculation. No symptoms were observed on the control plants. The bacteria that were readily reisolated from the inoculated plants exhibited the same morphological, physiological characters and 16S rDNA sequence as the original culture and were confirmed as A. tumefaciens, fulfilling Koch's postulates. A. tumefaciens is endemic to China and has a very wide host range (1). However, crown gall of soapberry has never been found in China and other countries. To our knowledge, this is the first report of A. tumefaciens on soapberry plants in China.

References: (1) M. A. Escobar and A. M. Dandekar. Trends Plant Sci. 8:380, 2003. (2) L. W. Moore et al. Page 17 in: Laboratory Guide for Identification of Plant Pathogenic Bacteria. 3rd ed. N. W. Schaad et al., eds. The American Phytopathological Society, St. Paul, MN, 2001.

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