Cucurbit bacterial wilt, caused by Erwinia tracheiphila, is a devastating disease of cucurbit crops in the Midwest and Northeast U.S. Current management of bacterial wilt relies primarily on insecticide applications to control striped and spotted cucumber beetles (Acalymma vittatum and Diabrotica undecimpunctata howardi, respectively), which vector E. tracheiphila. Development of alternative management strategies is constrained by a lack of understanding of bacterial wilt etiology. The impact of host age on rate on symptom development and extent of bacterial movement in the xylem of muskmelon (Cucumis melo cv. Athena) was evaluated following wound inoculation of 2- to 8-week-old plants in growth chamber experiments. Wilting occurred more rapidly in plants after inoculating E. tracheiphila into 2- or 4-week-old plants than 6- or 8-week-old plants. Recovery of viable cells from stem segments revealed that vascular spread of E. tracheiphila was more extensive below than above the inoculation point. These findings provide experimental evidence that host age impacts the rate of symptom development in cucurbit bacterial wilt and that movement of the xylem-inhabiting pathogen E. tracheiphila within muskmelon plants occurs primarily in the downward direction.
European Journal of Plant Pathology – Springer Journals
Published: Jan 24, 2018
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