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Biology and control of Pectobacterium in potato

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Pectobacterium species cause soft rot, blackleg, and stem rot in potato and a wide range of other vegetable crops and ornamental plants. Diseases caused by Pectobacterium are controlled mainly through use of healthy planting material, sanitation and copper sprays. Environmental factors, such as temperature, moisture and soil oxygen concentration, have a large effect on development of diseases caused by Pectobacterium and disease incidence can be unpredictable. The pathogen is spread by various mechanisms including water, seed, equipment and insects. Little is understood about plant resistance to soft rot bacterial pathogens and no commercial potato cultivars are resistant to soft rot, although some have tolerance and some wild potato species are resistant. Pectobacterium is a diverse genus, with multiple species capable of infecting potato. Multiple Pectobacterium species may be found in the same field and even on the same plant. Pectobacterium strains vary in aggressiveness and the virulence genes they encode but there are many commonalities across the genus. Over the past decade, genomic studies have provided new insights into Pectobacterium biology. For example, some Pectobacterium strains may elicit plant cell death to promote disease in leaves. Strains of the pathogen also produce an orange pigment and volatile compounds that increase virulence and that may act as insect kairomones. Recent work with a supervised machine learning program has identified several novel target genes likely to contribute to plant-microbe interactions, suggesting that there is still much to learn about how soft rot bacteria cause disease.


Las especies de Pectobacterium causan pudriciones blandas, pierna negra y pudrición del tallo en papa y en una gran amplitud de otros cultivos hortícolas y plantas ornamentales. Las enfermedades causadas por Pectobacterium se controlan principalmente mediante el uso de material de siembra sano, prácticas sanitarias y aspersiones de cobre. Los factores ambientales tales como la temperatura, la humedad y la concentración del oxígeno en el suelo, tienen un gran efecto en el desarrollo de enfermedades causadas por Pectobacterium y la incidencia de la enfermedad puede ser impredecible. El patógeno se dispersa por varios mecanismos incluyendo agua, semilla, equipo e insectos. Se ha entendido poco sobre la resistencia de la planta a los patógenos bacterianos de pudrición blanda, y no hay variedades comerciales de papa que sean resistentes a la pudrición blanda, aunque algunas tienen tolerancia y algunas especies de papa silvestre son resistentes. El género Pectobacterium es diverso, con múltiples especies capaces de infectar a la papa. Se pueden encontrar múltiples especies de Pectrobacterium en el mismo campo y aun en la misma planta. Las cepas de Pectobacterium varían en su agresividad y en los genes de virulencia que codifican, pero hay muchas cosas en común en todo el género. En la década pasada, estudios genómicos han proporcionado nueva información de la biología de Pectobacterium. Por ejemplo, algunas variantes de este grupo de patógenos pueden inducir muerte de la célula vegetal para promover la enfermedad en hojas. Las cepas de este patógeno también inducen un pigmento color naranja y compuestos volátiles que aumentan la virulencia y que pudieran actuar como kairomonas de insectos. El trabajo reciente con una máquina supervisada con un programa de aprendizaje ha identificado varios genes nuevos como objetivos con probabilidades de contribuir en las interacciones planta-microbio, sugiriendo que aún hay mucho por aprender acerca de cómo las bacterias de pudrición suave causan enfermedad.

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Charkowski, A.O. Biology and control of Pectobacterium in potato. Am. J. Potato Res. 92, 223–229 (2015).

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