A beneficial bacterium, Paraburkholderia phytofirmans, is proving to be a valuable biological approach to combatting Pierce’s disease. Researchers have been working with the bacterium for quite some time. In greenhouse and field trials, the bacterium appears to help grapevines bolster defenses against the pathogen Xylella fastidiosa, which causes the disease.
“It turns out that the Paraburkholderia, the beneficial bacterium, seems to sensitize the plant to the pathogen. The plant then has a defensive reaction that it will mount against the pathogen that it normally would not,” said Steve Lindow with UC Berkeley’s Department of Plant and Microbial Biology. “When sensitized by the beneficial bacterium, the plant seems to mount a defense and definitely can prevent the growth of the pathogen and actually kill it.”
The Xylella fastidiosa pathogen can typically grow undisturbed within grapevines, blocking the movement of water in the plant. By engaging the plant’s natural defenses with the beneficial bacterium, researchers were able to achieve a 90 percent reduction in the likelihood of infection. The Paraburkholderia has also displayed properties that go beyond many other biological approaches to disease management.
“Many biologicals act mostly in a protective mode in kind of a prophylaxis that would prevent the plant from becoming infected, and this will also,” Lindow noted. “But remarkably, it also will act as an eradicant. As long as the pathogen hasn’t spread too far in the plant we can basically eradicate the pathogen from the plant by this topical application even several weeks after infection.”
Listen to the full episode with Steve Lindow.
‘Making Sense of Biologicals’ is a series from AgNet West that dives into various topics with unbiased experts in the field of biologics to help the industry better understand the product category.
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