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First Report on Almond in Europe of Bacterial Spot Disease of Stone Fruits Caused by Xanthomonas arboricola pv. pruni

    Authors and Affiliations
    • A. Palacio-Bielsa , Centro de Investigación y Tecnología Agroalimentaria de Aragón (CITA), Av. Montañana, 930, 50059 Zaragoza, Spain
    • M. Roselló , Laboratorio de Diagnóstico. Generalitat Valenciana. Ctra. Alicante-Valencia km 276.5, 46460 Silla, Valencia, Spain
    • M. A. Cambra , Centro de Protección Vegetal, Av. Montañana, 930, 50059 Zaragoza, Spain
    • M. M. López , Instituto Valenciano de Investigaciones Agrarias (IVIA), Ctra. Moncada-Náquera km 4.5, 46113, Moncada, Valencia, Spain

      Published Online:

      Symptoms characteristic of bacterial spot disease of Prunus spp. (4) were observed on almond trees (Prunus dulcis (Mill.) Webb) in 14 localities of Comunidad Valenciana (eastern Spain) and Aragón (northeastern Spain) between 2006 and 2009. Symptoms were first noted in the spring and were observed until leaf fall. Initial infections began on leaves as small, angular, water-soaked spots, which mainly developed toward the tip and along the leaf margins. These water-soaking lesions were surrounded by chlorotic tissue, although chlorosis did not extend more than a few millimeters. Subsequently, the lesions turned light brown, necrotic, and sometimes the necrotic spots fell out. When the lesions coalesced, they produced large necrotic areas. Sometimes premature leaf drop of infected leaves was observed in severely affected trees. Infected fruits initially displayed sunken, corky lesions that oozed gum, which later became raised when the mesocarp dehydrated. Infected fruits either dropped prematurely or remained on trees after harvest. Cankers typical of bacterial spot disease of stone fruit trees were observed on branches and shoots. Isolations from diseased leaves and fruits yielded Xanthomonas-like colonies on YPGA medium (yeast extract, peptone, and glucose agar), which were subsequently purified and characterized. All strains were gram-negative rods, oxidase negative, and strictly aerobic and showed typical biochemical characteristics of the Xanthomonas genus (3). A collection of 70 strains were further identified by PCR with primers Y17CoF/Y17CoR (1) as Xanthomonas arboricola pv. pruni by comparison with reference strains ISPaVe B4 and ISPaVe B6 isolated from Prunus salicina in Italy. A selection of 46 strains were also analyzed by immunofluorescence (IF) and ELISA using commercial polyclonal antibodies from NEOGEN Europe Ltd. (Ayrshire, Scotland, UK) and SEDIAG S.A.S. (Longvic, France), respectively), although ELISA antibodies proved to be not specific for X. arboricola pv. pruni. Pathogenicity was confirmed by inoculation of 70 almond strains and the reference strains on leaves of potted almond trees and/or on detached leaves (2) with bacterial suspensions (107 CFU per ml). One leaf was inoculated at 8 to 10 sites per strain. Characteristic bacterial spot disease symptoms (4) appeared on all inoculated leaves after 1 week of incubation at 25°C and high humidity, but not on the negative controls infiltrated with sterile distilled water. The original pathogen was reisolated from lesions of inoculated leaves and confirmed by biochemical tests, IF and PCR. As observed in Spain, the disease produces serious damage on the most susceptible almond cultivars like Antoñeta, Guara, Marta, Mas Bovera, and Vayro and can be very harmful, with severity of infection depending upon the relative cultivar susceptibility and environmental conditions. Appropriate eradication measures were taken after the causal agent was confirmed as X. arboricola pv. pruni. This pathogen was previously reported on almond in Japan and New Zealand (4). To our knowledge, this is not only the first report on almond in Spain but also in Europe.

      References: (1) M. C. Pagani. Ph. D. thesis, North Carolina State University, Raleigh, 2004. (2) P. S. Randhawa and E. L. Civerolo. Phytopathology 75:1060, 1985. (3) L. Vauterin et al. Int. J. Syst. Bacteriol. 45:472, 1995. (4) J. M. Young. N. Z. J. Agric. Res. 20:105, 1977.