Medfly Ceratitis capitata as Potential Vector for Fire Blight Pathogen Erwinia amylovora: Survival and Transmission.
ABSTRACT: Monitoring the ability of bacterial plant pathogens to survive in insects is required for elucidating unknown aspects of their epidemiology and for designing appropriate control strategies. Erwinia amylovora is a plant pathogenic bacterium that causes fire blight, a devastating disease in apple and pear commercial orchards. Studies on fire blight spread by insects have mainly focused on pollinating agents, such as honeybees. However, the Mediterranean fruit fly (medfly) Ceratitis capitata (Diptera: Tephritidae), one of the most damaging fruit pests worldwide, is also common in pome fruit orchards. The main objective of the study was to investigate whether E. amylovora can survive and be transmitted by the medfly. Our experimental results show: i) E. amylovora can survive for at least 8 days inside the digestive tract of the medfly and until 28 days on its external surface, and ii) medflies are able to transmit the bacteria from inoculated apples to both detached shoots and pear plants, being the pathogen recovered from lesions in both cases. This is the first report on E. amylovora internalization and survival in/on C. capitata, as well as the experimental transmission of the fire blight pathogen by this insect. Our results suggest that medfly can act as a potential vector for E. amylovora, and expand our knowledge on the possible role of these and other insects in its life cycle.
Project description:Antibiotics are used extensively to control animal, plant, and human pathogens. They are sprayed on apple and pear orchards to control the bacterium Erwinia amylovora, the causative agent of fire blight. This phytopathogen is developing antibiotic resistance and alternatives either have less efficacy, are phytotoxic, or more management intensive. The objective of our study was to develop an effective biological control agent colonizing the host plant and competing with Erwinia amylovora. It must not be phytotoxic, have a wide spectrum of activity, and be unlikely to induce resistance in the pathogen. To this end, several bacterial isolates from various environmental samples were screened to identify suitable candidates that are antagonistic to E. amylovora. We sampled bacteria from the flowers, leaves, and soil from apple and pear orchards from the springtime bloom period until the summer. The most effective bacteria, including isolates of Pseudomonas poae, Paenibacillus polymyxa, Bacillus amyloliquefaciens and Pantoea agglomerans, were tested in vitro and in vivo and formulated into products containing both the live strains and their metabolites that were stable for at least 9 months. Trees treated with the product based on P. agglomerans NY60 had significantly less fire blight than the untreated control and were statistically not different from streptomycin-treated control trees. With P. agglomerans NY60, fire blight never extended beyond the central vein of the inoculated leaf. The fire blight median disease severity score, 10 days after inoculation, was up to 70% less severe on trees treated with P. agglomerans NY60 as compared to untreated controls.
Project description:Fire blight is a destructive plant disease caused by Erwinia amylovora affecting pome fruit trees, and responsible for large yield declines, long phytosanitary confinements, and high economic losses. In Portugal, the first major fire blight outbreaks occurred in 2010 and 2011, and although later considered eradicated, the emergence of other outbreaks in recent years stressed the need to characterize the E. amylovora populations associated with these outbreaks. In this regard, CRISPR genotyping, assessment of three virulence markers, and semi-quantitative virulence bioassays, were carried out to determine the genotype, and assess the virulence of thirty-six E. amylovora isolates associated with outbreaks occurring between 2010 and 2017 and affecting apple and pear orchards located in the country central-west, known as the main producing region of pome fruits in Portugal. The data gathered reveal that 35 E. amylovora isolates belong to one of the widely-distributed CRISPR genotypes (5-24-38 / D-a-α) regardless the host species, year and region. Ea 680 was the single isolate revealing a new CRISPR genotype due to a novel CR2 spacer located closer to the leader sequence and therefore thought to be recently acquired. Regarding pathogenicity, although dot-blot hybridization assays showed the presence of key virulence factors, namely hrpL (T3SS), hrpN (T3E) and amsG from the amylovoran biosynthesis operon in all E. amylovora isolates studied, pathogenicity bioassays on immature pear slices allowed to distinguish four virulence levels, with most of the isolates revealing an intermediate to severe virulence phenotype. Regardless the clonal population structure of the E. amylovora associated to the outbreaks occurring in Portugal between 2010 and 2017, the different virulence phenotypes, suggests that E. amylovora may have been introduced at different instances into the country. This is the first study regarding E. amylovora in Portugal, and it discloses a novel CRISPR genotype for this bacterium.
Project description:Fast and accurate diagnosis is needed to eradicate and manage economically important and invasive diseases like fire blight. Loop-mediated isothermal amplification (LAMP) is known as the best on-site diagnostic, because it is fast, highly specific to a target, and less sensitive to inhibitors in samples. In this study, LAMP assay that gives more consistent results for on-site diagnosis of fire blight than the previous developed LAMP assays was developed. Primers for new LAMP assay (named as DS-LAMP) were designed from a histidine-tRNA ligase gene (EAMY_RS32025) of E. amylovora CFBP1430 genome. The DS-LAMP amplified DNA (positive detection) only from genomic DNA of E. amylovora strains, not from either E. pyrifoliae (causing black shoot blight) or from Pseudomonas syringae pv. syringae (causing shoot blight on apple trees). The detection limit of DS-LAMP was 10 cells per LAMP reaction, equivalent to 104 cells per ml of the sample extract. DS-LAMP successfully diagnosed the pathogens on four fire-blight infected apple and pear orchards. In addition, it could distinguish black shoot blight from fire blight. The Bühlmann-LAMP, developed previously for on-site diagnosis of fire blight, did not give consistent results for specificity to E. amylovora and on-site diagnosis; it gave positive reactions to three strains of E. pyrifoliae and two strains of P. syringae pv. syringae. It also, gave positive reactions to some healthy sample extracts. DS-LAMP, developed in this study, would give more accurate on-site diagnosis of fire blight, especially in the Republic of Korea, where fire blight and black shoot blight coexist.
Project description:Phages able to infect the fire blight pathogen Erwinia amylovora were isolated from apple, pear, and raspberry tissues and from soil samples collected at sites displaying fire blight symptoms. Among a collection of 50 phage isolates, 5 distinct phages, including relatives of the previously described phages phiEa1 and phiEa7 and 3 novel phages named phiEa100, phiEa125, and phiEa116C, were identified based on differences in genome size and restriction fragment pattern. phiEa1, the phage distributed most widely, had an approximately 46-kb genome which exhibited some restriction site variability between isolates. Phages phiEa100, phiEa7, and phiEa125 each had genomes of approximately 35 kb and could be distinguished by their EcoRI restriction fragment patterns. phiEa116C contained an approximately 75-kb genome. phiEa1, phiEa7, phiEa100, phiEa125, and phiEa116C were able to infect 39, 36, 16, 20, and 40, respectively, of 40 E. amylovora strains isolated from apple orchards in Michigan and 8, 12, 10, 10, and 12, respectively, of 12 E. amylovora strains isolated from raspberry fields (Rubus spp.) in Michigan. Only 22 of 52 strains were sensitive to all five phages, and 23 strains exhibited resistance to more than one phage. phiEa116C was more effective than the other phages at lysing E. amylovora strain Ea110 in liquid culture, reducing the final titer of Ea110 by >95% when added at a ratio of 1 PFU per 10 CFU and by 58 to 90% at 1 PFU per 10(5) CFU.
Project description:Fire blight remains a serious threat to commercial apple production in the USA and worldwide. Other diseases and spray damage can result in fire blight-like symptoms that can lead to misdiagnosis and affect disease management strategies. Accurate and timely detection of the fire blight pathogen, <i>Erwinia amylovora</i>, is extremely important to deploy appropriate and timely measures to reduce fire blight epidemics in commercial apple orchards. We tested two commercial lateral flow immunoassays (AgriStrip®, and Pocket Diagnostics kit), Loop mediated isothermal amplification (LAMP), and quantitative PCR (qPCR) to diagnose <i>E. amylovora</i> infected samples in lab and field settings. The AgriStrip® and Pocket Diagnostics kits were able to detect actively growing bacteria up to ×10<sup>6</sup> cfu/ml bacterial concentration. Pocket Diagnostics kit had less specificity and showed positive tests for <i>E. pyrifolia</i> in addition to <i>E. amylovora</i>. The LAMP assay showed high specificity for <i>E. amylovora</i> and was able to detect up to ×10<sup>3</sup> cfu/ml bacterial concentrations. The qPCR assay was also able to detect bacterial cells up to ×10<sup>-3</sup> cfu/ml bacterial concentration with highly specific <i>E. amylovora</i> detection. Grower surveys and comparative cost-benefit analysis indicated that immunoassay kits are less expensive, easier to use, and require less technical expertise for on-site fire blight diagnosis than LAMP and qPCR. However, the choice of a specific diagnostic assay depends on the time, sensitivity, and specificity required for the detection of fire blight and its management.
Project description:Pear (Pyrus communis) is an economically important fruit crop. Drops in yield and even losses of whole plantations are caused by diseases, most importantly fire blight which is triggered by the bacterial pathogen Erwinia amylovora. In response to the infection, biphenyls and dibenzofurans are formed as phytoalexins, biosynthesis of which is initiated by biphenyl synthase (BIS). Two PcBIS transcripts were cloned from fire blight-infected leaves and the encoded enzymes were characterized regarding substrate specificities and kinetic parameters. Expression of PcBIS1 and PcBIS2 was studied in three pear cultivars after inoculation with E. amylovora. Both PcBIS1 and PcBIS2 were expressed in 'Harrow Sweet', while only PcBIS2 transcripts were detected in 'Alexander Lucas' and 'Conference'. Expression of the PcBIS genes was observed in both leaves and the transition zone of the stem; however, biphenyls and dibenzofurans were only detected in stems. The maximum phytoalexin level (~110 ?g/g dry weight) was observed in the transition zone of 'Harrow Sweet', whereas the concentrations were ten times lower in 'Conference' and not even detectable in 'Alexander Lucas'. In 'Harrow Sweet', the accumulation of the maximum phytoalexin level correlated with the halt of migration of the transition zone, whereby the residual part of the shoot survived. In contrast, the transition zones of 'Alexander Lucas' and 'Conference' advanced down to the rootstock, resulting in necrosis of the entire shoots.
Project description:Erwinia amylovora is the causal agent of fire blight, a devastating disease affecting some plants of the Rosaceae family. We isolated bacteriophages from samples collected from infected apple and pear trees along the Wasatch Front in Utah. We announce 19 high-quality complete genome sequences of E. amylovora bacteriophages.
Project description:Fire blight caused by the Gram-negative bacterium Erwinia amylovora can be controlled by antagonistic microorganisms. We characterized epiphytic bacteria isolated from healthy apple and pear trees in Australia, named Erwinia tasmaniensis, and the epiphytic bacterium Erwinia billingiae from England for physiological properties, interaction with plants and interference with growth of E. amylovora. They reduced symptom formation by the fire blight pathogen on immature pears and the colonization of apple flowers. In contrast to E. billingiae, E. tasmaniensis strains induced a hypersensitive response in tobacco leaves and synthesized levan in the presence of sucrose. With consensus primers deduced from lsc as well as hrpL, hrcC and hrcR of the hrp region of E. amylovora and of related bacteria, these genes were successfully amplified from E. tasmaniensis DNA and alignment of the encoded proteins to other Erwinia species supported a role for environmental fitness of the epiphytic bacterium. Unlike E. tasmaniensis, the epiphytic bacterium E. billingiae produced an acyl-homoserine lactone for bacterial cell-to-cell communication. Their competition with the growth of E. amylovora may be involved in controlling fire blight.
Project description:For possible control of fire blight affecting apple and pear trees, we characterized Erwinia amylovora phages from North America and Germany. The genome size determined by electron microscopy (EM) was confirmed by sequence data and major coat proteins were identified from gel bands by mass spectroscopy. By their morphology from EM data, ?Ea1h and ?Ea100 were assigned to the Podoviridae and ?Ea104 and ?Ea116 to the Myoviridae. Host ranges were essentially confined to E. amylovora, strains of the species Erwinia pyrifoliae, E. billingiae and even Pantoea stewartii were partially sensitive. The phages ?Ea1h and ?Ea100 were dependent on the amylovoran capsule of E. amylovora, ?Ea104 and ?Ea116 were not. The Myoviridae efficiently lysed their hosts and protected apple flowers significantly better than the Podoviridae against E. amylovora and should be preferred in biocontrol experiments. We have also isolated and partially characterized E. amylovora phages from apple orchards in Germany. They belong to the Podoviridae or Myoviridae with a host range similar to the phages isolated in North America. In EM measurements, the genome sizes of the Podoviridae were smaller than the genomes of the Myoviridae from North America and from Germany, which differed from each other in corresponding nucleotide sequences.
Project description:The enterobacterium Erwinia amylovora is a devastating plant pathogen causing necrotrophic fire blight disease of apple, pear, and other rosaceous plants. In this study, we used a modified in vivo expression technology system to identify E. amylovora genes that are activated during infection of immature pear tissue, a process that requires the major pathogenicity factors of this organism. We identified 394 unique pear fruit-induced (pfi) genes on the basis of sequence similarity to known genes and separated them into nine putative function groups including host-microbe interactions (3.8%), stress response (5.3%), regulation (11.9%), cell surface (8.9%), transport (13.5%), mobile elements (1.0%), metabolism (20.3%), nutrient acquisition and synthesis (15.5%), and unknown or hypothetical proteins (19.8%). Known virulence genes, including hrp/hrc components of the type III secretion system, the major effector gene dspE, type II secretion, levansucrase (lsc), and regulators of levansucrase and amylovoran biosynthesis, were upregulated during pear tissue infection. Known virulence factors previously identified in E. (Pectobacterium) carotovora and Pseudomonas syringae were identified for the first time in E. amylovora and included HecA hemagglutinin family adhesion, Peh polygalacturonase, new effector HopPtoC(EA), and membrane-bound lytic murein transglycosylase MltE(EA). An insertional mutation within hopPtoC(EA) did not result in reduced virulence; however, an mltE(EA) knockout mutant was reduced in virulence and growth in immature pears. This study suggests that E. amylovora utilizes a variety of strategies during plant infection and to overcome the stressful and poor nutritional environment of its plant hosts.