• R. Kenneth Horst
Reference work entry


The fact that bacteria can cause plant diseases was discovered almost simultaneoualy in four different countries, with the United States claiming first honors. In 1878 Professor T. J. Burrill of the University of Illinois advanced the theory that fire blight of apple and pear was due to the bacteria that he found constantly associated with blighted tissues. In 1879, the French scientist Prillieux published a paper on bacteria as the cause of rose-red disease of wheat; in 1880 the Italian Comes recognized bacteria as pathogenic to plants; in 1882 Burrill named his fire-blight organism Micrococcus amylovorus;and in 1883 Walker in Holland reported the bacterial nature of yellows disease of hyacinth. It remained, however, for Erwin F. Smith, of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, to do most of the pioneer work in this field and to convince the world that bacteria were to blame for so many diseases. He spent a lifetime in the process, starting with peach yellows, and going on to a study of crown gall and its relation to human cancer. In 1905 the first volume of his monumental work Bacteria in Relation to Plant Diseases was published.


Hairy Root Plant Disease Crown Gall Fire Blight Polar Flagellum 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • R. Kenneth Horst
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Plant Pathology and Plant-Microbe BiologyCornell UniversityIthacaUSA

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