Survival ofClavibacter michiganensissubsp.michiganensisin tomato debris under greenhouse conditions

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Bacterial canker, caused by Clavibacter michiganensis subsp. michiganensis, is one of the most important diseases of tomato worldwide. Once the pathogen has been introduced into an area, i.e. by contaminated seeds or transplants, it survives mainly on host debris. In different geographic areas the survival time of the pathogen in crop residues under field conditions has been very variable, ranging from 2 months in Morocco to 2 years in Iowa (USA). This study took place in the horticultural belt of Buenos Aires – La Plata, Argentina, where greenhouse production prevails, and monoculture with two production cycles per year is a common practice. The aim was to determine the survival time of this pathogen in plant residues left on the soil surface or buried. During three consecutive years, by the end of both production cycles in July (winter) and December (summer), above- (stem, petiole) and belowground (root) tissues were placed into nylon netting bags and left on the soil surface or buried at 10 cm depth. The pathogen population was regularly quantified by dilution plating on semiselective medium. In host debris left on the soil surface, bacteria survived 120–260 days for crop production cycles that ended in winter and 45–75 days for those that ended in summer. In stems or roots buried in winter, this period was 45–75 days. It is concluded that host debris, including roots, might be an important primary inoculum source of the pathogen in greenhouses.

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