Characterization of Dickeya and Pectobacterium strains obtained from diseased potato plants in different climatic conditions of Norway and Poland.
Soft rot and blackleg of potato caused by pectinolytic bacteria lead to severe economic losses in potato production worldwide. To investigate the species composition of bacteria causing soft rot and black leg of potato in Norway and Poland, bacteria were isolated from potato tubers and stems. Forty-one Norwegian strains and 42 Polish strains that formed cavities on pectate medium were selected for potato tuber maceration assays and sequencing of three housekeeping genes (dnaX, icdA and mdh) for species identification and phylogenetic analysis. The distribution of the species causing soft rot and blackleg in Norway and Poland differed: we have demonstrated that mainly P. atrosepticum and P. c. subsp. carotovorum are the causal agents of soft rot and blackleg of potatoes in Norway, while P. wasabiae was identified as one of the most important soft rot pathogens in Poland. In contrast to the other European countries, D. solani seem not to be a major pathogen of potato in Norway and Poland. The Norwegian and Polish P. c. subsp. carotovorum and P. wasabiae strains did not cluster with type strains of the respective species in the phylogenetic analysis, which underlines the taxonomic complexity of the genus Pectobacterium. No correlation between the country of origin and clustering of the strains was observed. All strains tested in this study were able to macerate potato tissue. The ability to macerate potato tissue was significantly greater for the P. c. subsp. carotovorum and Dickeya spp., compared to P. atrosepticum and P. wasabiae.