An indigenous virulent strain of Erwinia amylovora lacking the ubiquitous plasmid pEA29.
An atypical strain of Erwinia amylovora was isolated near an outbreak of fire blight at a nursery in Spain in 1996. It was obtained from a Crataegus plant showing typical symptoms and was identified as E. amylovora by biochemical tests and enrichment-enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay, but not by polymerase chain reaction using primers based on the pEA29 sequence. Nevertheless, with primers from chromosomal regions, the isolate gave the expected amplification band. This strain carries one plasmid of ∼70 kb, with no homology with the 29-kb plasmid common to all pathogenic strains, or with a large plasmid present in some E. amylovora strains. Growth of the strain in minimal medium without thiamine was slower compared with cultures in the same medium with thiamine, a characteristic typical of strains cured of the 29-kb plasmid. Nevertheless, aggressiveness assays on pear, apple, and Pyracantha plants and in immature pear fruit showed that this strain exhibited a virulence level similar to other strains containing pEA29. To the best of our knowledge, this is the first report of the isolation from naturally infected plant material of a pathogenic strain of E. amylovora without pEA29, but with a plasmid of ∼70 kb not previously described.