Following spread of fire blight in Western, Central and Southern Europe by molecular differentiation of Erwinia amylovora strains with PFGE analysis.
Fire blight has been detected recently in several areas of northern Spain and northeastern Italy. To follow spread of the disease within Europe, more than 120 E. amylovora strains isolated from 1957-2000 in England (UK), France, Germany, Netherlands, Belgium, Poland, Italy and Spain were assayed using pulsed-field gel electrophoresis (PFGE) analysis of genomic DNA after XbaI digestion. Pattern types Pt1 and Pt4 were found for strains from England. Pt1 was also found in central Europe and eastern France, and Pt4 in western France. Pt2 appeared first in Egypt, from where strains with this pattern disseminated northward as far as into the Balkans. Pt3 was typical for northern France and Belgium. Strains from Spain displayed the pattern types Pt3 and Pt4. In Italy, Pt2 was found in the southeastern areas, Pt3 in the northeastern areas, and Pt1 was found very recently in orchards adjacent to the Austrian border, together with Pt3. Despite barely controlled trade with fire blight host plants and associated plant products within Europe, the PFGE patterns of the E. amylovora isolates were ordered indicating sequential spread. On the other hand, the appearance of Pt3 in northern Italy and central Spain can be explained by the import of contaminated plants by nurseries.