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New Diversity of Ralstonia solanacearum Strains Associated with Vegetable and Ornamental Crops in Florida

Ji, P., Allen, C., Sanchez-Perez, A., Yao, J., Elphinstone, J.G., Jones, J.B., Momol, M.T.
Plant disease 2007 v.91 no.2 pp. 195-203
Capsicum annuum, sweet peppers, Hydrangea paniculata, Hydrangea macrophylla, ornamental woody plants, Pelargonium hortorum, ornamental plants, nursery crops, Ralstonia solanacearum, bacterial wilt, strains, strain differences, host plants, disease diagnosis, serodiagnosis, polymerase chain reaction, pathogenicity, host range, virulence, nucleotide sequences, phylogeny, microbial genetics, Florida
In 2003 and 2004, 15 isolates of Ralstonia solanacearum were obtained from wilting plants of field-grown pepper (Capsicum annuum) in south Florida and from pot-grown hydrangea (Hydrangea paniculata and H. macrophylla) and geranium (Pelargonium x hortorum) in commercial nurseries and retention ponds in north Florida. Diagnostic immunoassays and polymerase chain reaction (PCR) analyses identified all the isolates as R. solanacearum but not race 3 biovar 2. Pathogenicity studies on tomato, pepper, and tobacco revealed that all 15 strains had similar high virulence on tomato and all caused wilting of tobacco, although there were significant differences among the strains in aggressiveness on tobacco. An indigenous Florida tomato strain, race 1 biovar 1 (Rs5), caused no disease on tobacco and little or none on pepper. The three pepper strains were more aggressive than Rs5 or two hydrangea strains on all three pepper cultivars studied. Phylogenetic analysis based on an endoglucanase gene sequence indicated that these strains had three distinct origins. The three pepper strains belonged to phylotype I biovar 3 and clustered with strains from diverse hosts in Asia belonging to sequevar 13. The six geranium strains and four of the hydrangea strains were closely related to strains in sequevar 5, a distinct subcluster of phylotype II biovar 1 strains isolated from the French West Indies and Brazil. Two other biovar 1 strains from hydrangea and strains K60, AW, and Rs5 belonged to sequevar 7 in phylotype II and probably are native to North America. None of the Florida isolates belong to the highly regulated Select Agent race 3 biovar 2 subgroup, according to both the DNA sequence analysis and the biovar phenotypic test results. However, the race 3 biovar 2-specific B2 primers weakly amplified a product from some race 1 biovar 1 strains in real-time PCR, indicating that this assay may give false positives under some conditions. Given the high cost of a misdiagnosis, it seems advisable to use at least two independent diagnostic methods to confirm that a suspect isolate is R. solanacearum R3B2. This is the first report of the presence of R. solanacearum race 1 biovar 3 or phylotype I strains in North America, and the first report confirming R. solanacearum causing natural infection of hydrangea in Florida. Thus, R. solanacearum strains that are quite distinct from presumably indigenous strains are present and can infect diverse hosts in Florida.