Biological Control to Protect Watermelon Blossoms and Seed from Infection by Acidovorax avenae subsp. citrulli

Phytopathology. 2005 Apr;95(4):413-9. doi: 10.1094/PHYTO-95-0413.


ABSTRACT The efficacy of biological control seed treatments with Pseudomonas fluorescens (A506), Acidovorax avenae subsp. avenae (AAA 99-2), and an unidentified gram-positive bacterium recovered from watermelon seed (WS-1) was evaluated for the management of bacterial fruit blotch (BFB) of watermelon. In growth chamber and greenhouse experiments, seed treated with AAA 99-2 displayed superior disease suppression, reducing BFB transmission by 96.5%. AAA 99-2, P. fluorescens A506, and Kocide also suppressed the epiphytic growth of A. avenae subsp. citrulli when applied to attached watermelon blossoms 5 h prior to inoculation. Watermelon blossom protection reduced seed infestation by A. avenae subsp. citrulli. From blossoms treated with 0.1 M phosphate buffered saline (PBS), 63% of the resulting seed lots were infested with A. avenae subsp. citrulli. In contrast, for blossoms protected with WS-1, Kocide, P. fluorescens A506, and AAA 99-2, the proportion of infested seed lots were 48.3, 21.1, 24.1, and 13.8%, respectively. The effect of blossom treatments on seed lot infestation was statistically significant (P = 0.001) but WS-1 was not significantly different from PBS. These findings suggest that blossom protection with biological control agents could be a feasible option for managing BFB.