Significant host jump of Xanthomonas vasicola from sugarcane to a Eucalyptus grandis clone in South Africa.
A number of bacterial pathogens have previously been shown to cause blight and die-back of Eucalyptus species. These include Pantoea ananatis, Pseudomonas cichorii, Xanthomonas axonopodis and Xanthomonas dyei pv. eucalypti. In 2003 a newly established compartment of a Eucalyptus grandis clone in the Mtunzini area of South Africa showed extensive leaf blight and die-back. The plantation was located in an area where sugarcane is extensively cultivated. Bacteria were commonly found exuding from leaves and petioles. Numerous insects in the family Miridae were observed in the plantation and collected. Isolations from diseased material and mirid insects yielded two distinct bacterial species. The objectives of this study were to identify these bacterial species and determine their aetiology. Phenotypic methods as well as 16S rRNA and gyrB sequencing were performed on all isolates, confirming the presence of P. ananatis and Xanthomonas vasicola, of which the pathovar vasculorum (Xvv) is known to infect sugarcane and maize. Xanthomonas vasicola isolates from E. grandis and a strain of Xvv, previously isolated from sugarcane, were inoculated into the susceptible Eucalyptus clone and three sugarcane cultivars. All isolates were found to be pathogenic. This study thus suggests that X. vasicola has made a significant host jump from sugarcane to eucalypts in South Africa.