Invasive Species Compendium

Detailed coverage of invasive species threatening livelihoods and the environment worldwide

Abstract

Dynamics and spread of bacterial spot epidemics in tomato transplants grown for field production.

Abstract

Tomato transplants are the primary means of establishing commercial tomato production fields in the eastern United States. Transplants are often suspected as the source of inoculum for major outbreaks in production fields of bacterial spot of tomato (BST) caused by Xanthomonas perforans (Xp). A combination of high plant densities with overhead irrigation, high humidity, and high temperatures are conducive to BST outbreaks during transplant production. In addition to chemical control, transplant growers use roguing to remove diseased transplants, as a primary way to manage BST during transplant production. The value of roguing is often questioned, because information about the rate of pathogen spread and the incubation period between infection and symptom development is limited. In this study, we evaluated the extent of X. perforans spread on tomato transplants relative to symptom development by using a rifampicin-resistant X. perforans strain and conducting experiments in an environmentally controlled greenhouse simulating grower practices and also at a commercial transplant facility in Florida. BST symptom development typically lagged behind X. perforans dispersal by at least 5 to 7 days depending on environmental conditions. Furthermore, X. perforans was capable of aerosolization, which resulted in long-distance dispersal of ≤2 m under highly favorable conditions. Growers should rogue diseased plants and surrounding nonsymptomatic plants by >1 and ≤3 m, depending on outbreak severity, to limit disease spread. As a result, proper disease management should reduce introduction of nonsymptomatic transplants into the field and subsequently reduce pesticide applications.