Acidovorax citrulli (Ac) is the causal agent of bacterial fruit blotch (BFB) disease resulting in substantial economic damage to cucurbit crops worldwide. The plant parts and cultural practices (irrigation methods and bactericidal sprays) that affect the secondary spread of Ac in melon nurseries were investigated in this study. Overhead irrigation dispersed the pathogen from infected seedlings to 95% of the neighbouring healthy seedlings, with 80% of them displaying high disease severity. In contrast, when sub-irrigation by floating was employed, the neighbouring plants of the infected ones did not display disease symptoms and were not colonized by Ac. Foliar treatment with Kocide after cotyledon emergence reduced disease incidence to 40%, with 37% of the plants displaying low disease severity. Assessment of Ac populations in different parts of the seedlings revealed that cotyledons were the most colonized part of the plant. Images of fluorescent binocular and confocal laser-scanning microscopy of seedlings infected with a GFP-labelled Ac strain showed that the pathogen forms abundant aggregates on the surface of cotyledons, colonizes the intercellular spaces of the parenchymatic tissues extensively, and moves through the vascular system of the hypocotyls, leading to infection of emerging leaves. Results of this study indicate that preventing secondary spread of Ac in melon nurseries by sub-irrigation combined with a bactericidal spray at the cotyledon stage may provide an effective means for BFB control.
Bibliographical notePublisher Copyright:
© 2014 British Society for Plant Pathology.
- Bacterial fruit blotch
- Copper hydroxide
- Cucumis melo
- Green fluorescent protein