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A Disease of Pearl Millet in Zimbabwe Caused by Pantoea agglomerans

    Authors and Affiliations
    • D. E. Frederickson , Department of Biology, University of Zimbabwe, MP167, Harare, Zimbabwe
    • E. S. Monyo
    • S. B. King , ICRISAT, Box 776, Bulawayo, Zimbabwe
    • G. N. Odvody , Texas A&M Research Centre, Box 589, Corpus Christi 78406

      Necrosis at the leaf tips and margins of pearl millet (Pennisetum glaucum (L.) R. Br.) was observed in 1995 in a Pseudomonas syringae resistance screening nursery near Bulawayo, Zimbabwe. Straw-colored lesions with a chlorotic edge often extended the leaf length, and were atypical of the round spots, with a brown margin, caused by P. syringae (1). Bacteria were isolated from cut lesions macerated in water by dilution streaking onto King's medium B and nutrient agar. A gram-negative, nonfluorescent, fermentative, rod-shaped bacterium, forming yellow colonies on nutrient agar was consistently observed. Three pots of 10, 2-to 3-week-old seedlings of a susceptible cultivar, 852B, were inoculated with a 108 CFU per ml suspension from cultures by misting or injection into the whorl. In three experiments, the treatment and uninoculated control were incubated at 25°C and 95% relative humidity for 48 h before transfer to the greenhouse. The original symptoms of watersoaking at leaf tips and margins were observed after 4 days. Necrotic lesions surrounded by chlorotic tissue were observed a day later. Fluorescence on King's medium B, and levan, oxidase, potato-rot, arginine dihydrolase, 2-keto gluconate, nitrate reduction, gelatin, phenylalanine deaminase, and acid from starch tests were negative. Tobacco hypersensitivity, acid from sucrose and glycerol, aesculin hydrolysis, lipase, indole production, and growth on tetrazolium chloride were positive. The identification of the pathogen to the species level as Pantoea agglomerans (Ewing and Fife 1972) Gavini et al. 1989, formerly Erwinia herbicola, was by fatty acid analysis by the International Mycological Institute (Egham, Surrey, UK). P. agglomerans was recorded as a pathogen of pearl millet in India in 1958 (2).

      References: (1) G. N. Odvody and A. K. Vidaver. Sorghum Newsl. 23:134, 1980. (2) C. K. S. Rajagopalan and G. Rangaswami. Curr. Sci. 27:30, 1958.