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ARS Home » Northeast Area » Frederick, Maryland » Foreign Disease-Weed Science Research » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #377188

Research Project: Utilizing Plant Pathogens as Biological Control Agents of Invasive Weeds in the United States

Location: Foreign Disease-Weed Science Research

Title: Bacterial canker of tomato: revisiting a global and economically damaging seedborne pathogen

item PERITORE-GALVE, CHRISTOPHER - Cornell University
item Tancos, Matthew
item SMART, CHRISTINE - Cornell University

Submitted to: Plant Disease
Publication Type: Review Article
Publication Acceptance Date: 10/22/2020
Publication Date: 10/27/2020
Citation: Peritore-Galve, C.F., Tancos, M.A., Smart, C.D. 2020. Bacterial canker of tomato: revisiting a global and economically damaging seedborne pathogen. Plant Disease. 105:1581-1595.

Interpretive Summary: Bacterial canker of tomato is an economically destructive disease caused by the Gram-positive actinomycete Clavibacter michiganensis. The pathogen systemically colonizes the xylem, causing unilateral wilt, marginal leaf necrosis, stem cankers, and ultimately plant death. Since the first isolation in 1909, this seed-disseminated pathogen has been detected globally, becoming an economically challenging problem for tomato growers worldwide. New insights into pathogenomics, host colonization, and disease development allow for improved management strategies that include clean seed, early detection, and continued screening for host resistance.

Technical Abstract: The Gram-positive actinomycete Clavibacter michiganensis is the causal agent of bacterial canker of tomato, an economically impactful disease with a worldwide distribution. This seedborne pathogen systemically colonizes tomato xylem leading to unilateral leaflet wilt, marginal leaf necrosis, stem and petiole cankers, and plant death. Additionally, splash dispersal of the bacterium onto fruit exteriors causes bird’s-eye lesions, which are characterized as necrotic centers surrounded by white halos. The pathogen can colonize developing seeds systemically through xylem and through penetration of fruit tissues from the exterior. There are currently no commercially available resistant cultivars, and bactericidal sprays have limited efficacy for managing the disease once the pathogen is in the vascular system. In this review we summarize research on epidemiology, host colonization, the bacterial genetics underlying virulence, and management of bacterial canker. Finally, we highlight important areas of research into this pathosystem that have the potential to generate new strategies for prevention and mitigation of bacterial canker.