Skip to main content
Log in

Fire blight distribution in Georgia and characterization of selected Erwinia amylovora isolates

  • Short Communication
  • Published:
Journal of Plant Pathology Aims and scope Submit manuscript


Since its initial appearance in the Mtskheta-Mtianeti region in 2016, fire blight has spread to several other regions of Georgia during the years 2017–2018, especially affecting the eastern part of the country. The causative agent of the disease, Gram-negative bacterium Erwinia amylovora, was confirmed by PCR in hundreds of instances on different organs of symptomatic apple, quince and pear trees. Isolates recovered from diseased plants in Georgia display the typical biochemical and physiological properties of the species. Sequencing of the CRISPR regions revealed the presence of two distinct genotypes that can directly or indirectly be traced back to those that originally colonized Europe in the second part of the twentieth century. Genetic and phenotypic differences among the isolates analyzed, together with the rapid spread of the disease across the country, are suggestive of multiple introduction events that occurred in recent years through import of diseased plant material.

This is a preview of subscription content, log in via an institution to check access.

Access this article

Price excludes VAT (USA)
Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout.

Instant access to the full article PDF.

Fig. 1
Fig. 2
Fig. 3
Fig. 4


  • Ashmawy NA (2010) Pathological and molecular studies on Erwinia amylovora the causal agent of fire blight disease. PhD Thesis, Alexandria University, Egypt

  • Ayers AR, Ayers BS, Goodman RN (1979) Extracellular polysaccharide of Erwinia amylovora: a correlation with virulence. Appl Environ Microb 38:659–666

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  • Bartels R (2012) Strep-resistant fire blight found in New York. Am Fruit Grow 2:21–24

    Google Scholar 

  • Beer SV, Norelli JL (1977) Fire blight epidemiology: factors affecting release of Erwinia amylovora by ankers. Phytopathol 77:1119–1125

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Bereswill S, Pahl A, Bellemann P, Zeller W, Geider K (1992) Sensitive and species-specific detection of Erwinia amylovora by polymerase chain reaction analysis. Appl Environ Microb 58:3522–3526

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  • Bereswill S, Jock S, Aldridge P, Janse JD, Geider K (1997) Molecular characterization of natural Erwinia amylovora strains deficient in levan synthesis. Physiol Mol Plant Pathol 51:215–225

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  • Billing E (2000) Fire blight risk assesessment systems and models. In: Vanneste JL (ed) Fire blight: the disease and its causative agent Erwinia amylovora. CABI, Wallingford, pp 293–318

    Chapter  Google Scholar 

  • Billing E, Baker LA, Crosse JE, Garrett CM (1961) Characteristics of English isolats of Erwinia amylovora (Burrill) Winslow et al. J Appl Bacteriol 24:195–201

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Drenova NV, Kharchenko AA, Kuznetsova AA, Balandina MB, Erohova MD, Kulakova JY, Kvashnina NA, Shneider EY, Koniajeva ON (2014) Distribution, characteristics and diagnostic methods for fire blight (Erwinia amylovora) in the Russian Federation. Acta Hortic 1056:65–70

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Dye DW (1981) A numerical taxonomic study of the genus Erwinia. New Zeal J Agr Res 24:223–229

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Escursell MM, Roschi A, Smits THM, Rezzonico F (2020) Characterization and direct molecular discrimination of rpsL mutations leading to high streptomycin resistance in Erwinia amylovora. J Plant Pathol.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Gaganidze DL, Aznarashvili MA, Sadunishvili TA, Abashidze EO, Gureilidze MA, Gvritishvili ES (2018) Fire blight in Georgia. Ann Agrar Sci 16:12–16

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Gusberti M, Klemm U, Meier MS, Maurhofer M, Hunger-Glaser I (2015) Fire blight control: the struggle goes on. A comparison of different fire blight control methods in Switzerland with respect to biosafety, efficacy and durability. Int J Environ Res Public Health 12:11422–11447

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  • Halupecki E, Bazzi C, Jock S, Geider K, Dermic D, Cvjetkovic B (2006) Characterization of Erwinia amylovora strains from Croatia. Eur J Plant Pathol 114:435–440

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  • Hirschi M, Stoeckli S, Dubrovsky M, Spirig C, Calanca P, Rotach MW, Fischer AM, Duffy B, Samietz J (2012) Downscaling climate change scenarios for apple pest and disease modeling in Switzerland. Earth Syst Dynam 3:33–47

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Holt JG, Krieg NR, Sneath PHA, Staley JT, Williams ST (1994) Bergey’s manual of determinative bacteriology, 9th edn. Williams and Wilkins, Baltimore

    Google Scholar 

  • Ishimaru C, Klos EJ (1984) New medium for detecting Erwinia amylovora and its use in epidemiological studies. Phytopathol 74:1342–1345

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • ISPM 27 Diagnostic protocols for regulated pests (2016) DP 13: Erwinia amylovora Accessed 18 Nov 2020

  • Jones AL, Geider K (2001) Gram-Negative Bacteria, Erwinia amylovora Group. In: Schaad NW, Jones JB, Chun W (eds) Laboratory Guide for Identification of Plant Pathogenic Bacteria, 3rd edn. APS Press, St Paul, pp 40–55

    Google Scholar 

  • King EO, Ward M, Raney DE (1954) Two simple media for the demonstration of pyocyanin and fluorescein. J Lab Clin Med 44:301–307

    CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Lecomte P, Manceau C, Paulin JP, Keck M (1997) Identification by PCR analysis on plasmid pEA29 of isolates of Erwinia amylovora responsible of an outbreak in Central Europe. Eur J Plant Pathol 103:91–98

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  • Llop P, Bonaterra A, Penalver J, Lopez MM (2000) Development of a highly sensitive nested-PCR procedure using a single closed tube for detection of Erwinia amylovora in asymptomatic plant material. Appl Environ Microbiol 66:2071–2078

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  • McGhee G, Sundin GW (2011) Evaluation of kasugamycin for fire blight management, effect on nontarget bacteria and assessment of kasugamycin resistance potential in Erwinia amylovora. Phytotpathol 101:192–204

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  • McGhee GC, Sundin GW (2012) Erwinia amylovora CRISPR elements provide new tools for evaluating strain diversity and for microbial source tracking. PLoS One 7:e41706

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  • McManus PS, Stockwell VO, Sundin GW, Jones AL (2002) Antibiotic use in plant agriculture. Annu Rev Phytopathol 40:443–465

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  • Momol MT, Zeller W (1992) Infections in Turkey thought to be part of an expanding epidemic originating in Egypt. Plant Dis 76:1114–1116

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • National Statistic Office of Georgia (2020) Agriculture of Georgia, 2019. Statistical publication, Tbilisi (Georgia). Accessed 18 Nov 2020 

  • Norelli JL, Jones AL, Aldwinckle HS (2003) Fire blight management in the twenty-first century. Plant Dis 87:756–765

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Parcey M, Gayder S, Morley-Senkler V, Bakkeren G, Úrbez-Torres JR, Ali S, Castle AG, Antonet Svircev AM (2020) Comparative genomic analysis of Erwinia amylovora reveals novel insights in phylogenetic arrangement, plasmid diversity, and streptomycin resistance. Genomics 112:3762–3772

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  • Paulin JP (2000) Erwinia amylovora: general characteristics, biochemistry and serology. In: Vanneste J (ed) Fire blight, the disease and its causative agent, Erwinia amylovora). CABI, Wallingford, pp 87–115

    Chapter  Google Scholar 

  • Pulawska J, Sobiczewski P (2012) Phenotypic and genetic diversity of Erwinia amylovora: the causal agent of fire blight. Trees 26:3–12

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Pusey PL (2002) Biological control agents for fire blight of apple compared under conditions limiting natural dispersal. Plant Dis 86:639–644

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  • Pusey PL, Curry EA (2004) Temperature and pomaceous flower age related to colonization by Erwinia amylovora and antagonists. Phytopathol 94:901–911

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  • Rezzonico F (2014) Diversity analysis in Erwinia amylovora isolates from Central Asia. Phytfire final meeting, Ürgüp (Turkey), May 13th, (Oral presentation). Accessed 18 Nov 2020

  • Rezzonico F, Smits THM, Duffy B (2011) Diversity and functionality of CRISPR regions in fire blight pathogen Erwinia amylovora. Appl Environ Microbiol 77:3819–3829

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  • Smits THM, Rezzonico F, Kamber T, Blom J, Goesmann A, Frey FE, Duffy B (2010) Complete genome sequence of the fire blight pathogen Erwinia amylovora CFBP 1430 and comparison to other Erwinia species. Mol Plant Microbe Interact 23:384–393

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  • Tancos KA, Cox KD (2016) Exploring diversity and origins of streptomycin-resistant Erwinia amylovora isolates in New York through CRISPR spacer arrays. Plant Dis 100:1307–1313

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  • Taylor RK, Guilford PJ, Clark RG, Hale CN, Forster RLS (2001) Detection of Erwinia amylovora in plant material using novel polymerase chain reaction (PCR) primers. New Zeal J Crop Hort 29:35–43

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  • The State of Georgia’s Biodiversity for Food and Agriculture (2019).  FAO Commission on genetic resources for food and agriculture. Assessments 2019, Rome (Italy).

  • Van der Zwet T (1996) Present worldwide distribution of fire blight. Acta Hortic 411:7–8

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Van der Zwet T, Keil HL (1979) Fire blight—a bacterial disease of rosaceous plants. Agricultural handbook 510. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Washington DC

    Google Scholar 

Download references


We thank National Food Agency, Ministry of Agriculture of Georgia and particularly Dr. Bezhan Rekhviashvili for providing with samples of plant materials. Dr. Dali Gaganidze, Dr. Tinatin Sadunishvili and Ms Mariam Aznarashvili are funded by the Shota Rustaveli National Science Foundation of Georgia (SRNSFG), grant number FR-19-22524. The participation of Dr. Fabio Rezzonico and Mr. Simon Carnal to this work was funded under project number IZ08Z0_177515 by the r4d Programme of the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) and the Swiss National Science Foundation (SNSF).

Author information

Authors and Affiliations


Corresponding author

Correspondence to Tinatin Sadunishvili.

Ethics declarations

Authors declare that the manuscript is entirely original and have not been, and will not be, published elsewhere if accepted for publishing in JPP. The content and authorship of the submitted manuscript has been approved by all authors, and all prevailing local, national and international regulations and conventions, and normal scientific ethical practices have been respected.

Conflict of interest

Authors declare no competing interests.

Human and animal rights and informed consent

This article does not contain any studies with human or animal subjects performed by any of the authors.

Additional information

Publisher’s note

Springer Nature remains neutral with regard to jurisdictional claims in published maps and institutional affiliations.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and permissions

About this article

Check for updates. Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Gaganidze, D., Sadunishvili, T., Aznarashvili, M. et al. Fire blight distribution in Georgia and characterization of selected Erwinia amylovora isolates. J Plant Pathol 103 (Suppl 1), 121–129 (2021).

Download citation

  • Received:

  • Accepted:

  • Published:

  • Issue Date:

  • DOI: