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Seminar: Understanding the Biology and Epidemiology of Bacterial Wilt of Cucurbits and Novel Means of Mitigating Its Effects

Cláudio Maurício Vrisman, Ph.D. student and Presidential Fellow, Dept. of Plant Pathology, Ohio State University
Image: Cláudio M. Vrisman, Ohio State University

Image: Cláudio M. Vrisman, Ohio State University

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April 17, 2017, 3:35 PM - 4:30 PM

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Abstract

Bacterial wilt of cucurbits, caused by Erwinia tracheiphila (Et), is one of the most destructive diseases of cucurbit crops in the midwestern and northeastern United States. The pathogen multiplies in the xylem, interrupting water flow and causing wilting symptoms and plant death. We used still and video bioluminescence imaging to describe in real-time and non-destructively the dynamics of Et inside the plant’s tissues. We found for the first time that melon roots were rapidly colonized after leaf inoculation. We also described the colonization of pumpkin and squash by a cucumber strain of Et, which did not lead to symptom expression; however, the bacteria remained inside these plants for at least thirty-five days, being detected occasionally in the roots of squash plants. The presence of the pathogen in the roots or in asymptomatic plants is an important factor never previously considered in disease management strategies. There are no current treatments to prevent or minimize bacterial wilt once plants are infected. New compounds that can inhibit bacterial growth and virulence are needed for management of bacterial diseases on various crops. From a high-throughput screening of a library of 4,182 small molecules, 231 exhibited “cidal” activity. When compared to other bacteria previously tested, both plant and animal pathogenic, sixteen compounds presented specificity to Et. Our goal is to select molecules that can effectively inhibit bacterial growth at lower concentrations and without toxic effects to beneficial bacteria, human cells, cucurbit plants, and pollinators, and to which bacteria are unlikely to develop resistance, a major concern in antibiotic development. [Cláudio M. Vrisman, Dr. Sally A. Miller, and Dr. Gireesh Rajashekara]

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814-863-1932