Molecular comparison of pathogenic bacteria from pear trees in Japan and the fire blight pathogen Erwinia amylovora.
Several strains of the genus Erwinia, which were isolated in Japan from pear (Pyrus pyrifolia) trees with necrotic symptoms that resembled fire blight, and tentatively identified as Erwinia amylovora, were reinvestigated for their relationship to the fire blight pathogen. These isolates produced ooze on slices of immature pears and were mucoid on MM2Cu agar plates, but did not synthesize levan and did not give the expected PCR signals with several primer pairs specific for E. amylovora. The isolates tested positive with PCR primers designed to detect the novel pear pathogen E. pyrifoliae, which was isolated from Nashi pear trees in South Korea. The nucleotide sequence analysis of a DNA fragment preceding the gene cluster for exopolysaccharide synthesis revealed a closer relationship to Erwinia pyrifoliae than to Erwinia amylovora. Plasmid profiles, protein patterns and genomic DNA analysed by PFGE after XbaI and SpeI digestion were different than Erwinia amylovora. Experiments with strains of Erwinia amylovora isolated from raspberry (Rubus sp.), Erwinia mallotivora and Enterobacter pyrinus also did not reveal a relationship between these bacteria and the Japanese Erwinia strains. The latter are not identical to Erwinia pyrifoliae, but possess many similar features to this pathogen that causes Asian pear blight. It is concluded that pathogenic bacteria isolated in Japan from pear trees with symptoms resembling fire blight are possibly different from Erwinia amylovora.