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ARS Home » Northeast Area » Ithaca, New York » Robert W. Holley Center for Agriculture & Health » Emerging Pests and Pathogens Research » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #368834

Research Project: Characterization of Molecular Networks in Diseases Caused by Emerging and Persistent Bacterial Plant Pathogens

Location: Emerging Pests and Pathogens Research

Title: Antibacterial activity and mode of action of potassium tetraborate tetrahydrate against soft rot bacterial plant pathogens

item LIU, YINGYU - Cornell University
item Filiatrault, Melanie

Submitted to: Microbiology
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 6/15/2020
Publication Date: 7/8/2020
Citation: Liu, Y., Filiatrault, M.J. 2020. Antibacterial activity and mode of action of potassium tetraborate tetrahydrate against soft rot bacterial plant pathogens. Microbiology.

Interpretive Summary: It is difficult to control plant diseases caused by bacteria. In this study we tested the effect of a compound (potassium tetraborate) for its ability to inhibit growth of bacteria. We found that the compound is able to inhibit growth of some bacterial plant pathogens but spontaneous resistance mutants arise. We studied the spontaneous resistant mutants and discovered a possible mechanism(s) of how the bacteria are able to overcome and become resistant to the compound. Overall the study provides important knowledge concerning antibiotic resistance of bacteria.

Technical Abstract: Bacterial soft rot caused by the bacteria Dickeya and Pectobacterium is a destructive disease of vegetables as well as ornamental plants. Several management options exist to help control these pathogens. Because of the limited success of these approaches, there is a need for the development of alternative methods to reduce losses. In this study we evaluated the effect of potassium tetraborate tetrahydrate (PTB) on the growth of six Dickeya and Pectobacterium spp. Disc diffusion assays showed that Dickeya spp. and Pectobacterium spp. differ in their sensitivity to PTB. Spontaneous PTB resistant Pectobacterium mutants were identified and further investigation of the mechanism of PTB resistance was conducted by full genome sequencing. Point mutations in genes cpdB and supK were found in the PTB resistant mutants. P. atrosepticum PTB resistant mutant showed increased swimming motility which suggested enhanced ability of move systemically once inside plants. Disease severity was reduced on P. atrosepticum inoculated potato stems sprayed with PTB. which indicates the potential use of PTB to control soft rot pathogens. Application of PTB can be used as a cost-effective treatment for disease management of potato plants, however, there is a potential risk for selecting for bacteria that are resistant to this chemical.