First Report of Pectobacterium carotovorum Causing Soft Rot of Opium Poppy in Spain.Plant Dis 2008; 92(2):317PD
Opium poppy (Papaver somniferum L.) is an economically important pharmaceutical crop in Spain. Approximately 8,000 ha are cultivated annually in southern and central Spain. To improve yields, opium poppy cultivation is expanding to more humid or irrigated areas of Spain. In the springs of 2005 and 2007, we observed poppy plants with wilt and stem rot symptoms in irrigated, commercial opium poppy (cv. Nigrum) at Carmona and Écija, which are in Seville Province in southern Spain. Closer observations of affected plants revealed darkening and water soaking of the leaves and stem at the soil level, wilting of the lower leaves or the entire plant, and dark brown discoloration of stem vascular tissues and pith of the plant. Severely affected plants became completely rotten and collapsed. Isolations from symptomatic tissues on nutrient agar consistently yielded bacterial colonies. Pure cultures of four representative bacterial strains (two per each of affected field and year of isolation) were used in triplicate for a comparative analysis of biochemical and physiological traits in the 'carotovora' group of Erwinia (1) with known isolates of Pectobacterium carotovorum subsp. carotovorum, P. carotovorum subsp. atrosepticum, and Dickeya chrysanthemi. The isolates from opium poppy were gram negative, facultatively anaerobic, oxidase negative, catalase positive, grew at 37°C, and did not produce gas from D-glucose. Acid was produced from D(+)-arabinose, lactose, and D(+)-trehalose, but not from α-D-methylglucoside. In addition, the opium poppy bacterial isolates caused soft rot on potato slices within 24 h at 25°C and did not induce a hypersensitive reaction on tobacco leaves. Use of the Biolog GN microplates and the OmniLog ID 1.2 system identified the four poppy isolates as P. carotovorum (showing a 66.7% similarity with the subsp. carotovorum). Pathogenicity of poppy isolates was tested on three 6-week-old opium poppy plants (cv. Nigrum) by injecting 100 μl of a bacterial suspension containing 108 CFU/ml in the basal stem. Plants that served as controls were injected with sterile water. Plants were incubated in a growth chamber adjusted to 28°C, 90% relative humidity, and a 14-h photoperiod of fluorescent light of 360 μE·m-2·s-1. Severe symptoms of soft rot and darkening developed on stems of inoculated plants within 3 to 5 days after inoculation. No symptoms developed on control plants. Bacterial strains reisolated from inoculated plants were identified as P. carotovorum on the basis of the Biolog system, as well as biochemical and physiological characters. To our knowledge, this is the first report of P. carotovorum causing soft rot of commercial opium poppy crops in Spain and elsewhere. The presence of this bacterial pathogen to irrigated crops and humid areas may pose an important constraint on the yield of opium poppy crops in Spain. References: (1) R. S. Dickey and A. Kelman. Pages 44-59 in: Laboratory Guide for Identification of Plant Pathogenic Bacteria. N. W. Schaad, ed. The American Phytopathological Society, St. Paul, MN, 1988.