The role of autumn infections in the progression of fire blight symptoms in perennial pear branches

D. Blachinsky*, D. Shtienberg, D. Oppenheim, M. Zilberstaine, S. Levi, E. Zamski, O. Shoseyov

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations

Abstract

The role of autumn infections in the progression of fire blight (caused by Erwinia amylovora) symptoms in perennial pear branches was studied in orchard-grown trees in Israel. The extent of symptom progression and the final length of fire blight cankers in perennial branches were variably affected by the vigor of the trees and the season of infection. Following spring infections, when all trees supported active shoot growth, fire blight symptoms progressed more rapidly and to longer distances in trees that exhibited high vigor (i.e., with numerous annual shoots on most terminal branches) than in low-vigor trees (i.e., few or no annual shoots on terminal branches). Irrespective of the vigor of the trees, the progression of fire blight symptoms in perennial branches ceased between mid-May and mid-July, and only a small proportion (0 to 14.2%) of the infections had invaded main limbs or trunks of trees. Progression of fire blight symptoms following autumn infections was related to the preceding summer (August to November) shoot regrowth: in trees in which the shoots did not restore their growth in the summer, the rate of symptom progression in perennial branches was higher in trees with a low vigor than in those with a high vigor, whereas for those with summer regrowth the relationship between rates of symptom expression was reversed. Irrespective of the vigor group and of whether there was summer regrowth, symptoms in perennial branches continued to progress through the winter until the following spring. Most of the autumn infections (50 to 78.5%) that developed in susceptible trees had invaded main limbs or trunks of trees. The results of this study indicate that factors related to host phenology and physiology, rather than factors related to environmental influences (such as temperature), govern the extent, rate, and duration of fire blight progression in perennial pear branches. Furthermore, it turned out that autumn infections play a substantial role in fire blight epidemiology in Israel.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)1077-1082
Number of pages6
JournalPlant Disease
Volume87
Issue number9
DOIs
StatePublished - 1 Sep 2003

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