Researchers hope to stop spread of bacterial spot in tomatoes

30-07-2020    15:45   |    Greenhouse Grower

Bacterial spot can be devastating to fresh tomatoes, which is why University of Florida (UF) scientists want to understand how the pathogen that causes the disease spreads and evolves.

Erica Goss, an Associate Professor of Plant Pathology at UF’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, was awarded a $455,000 grant by the National Institute of Food and Agriculture, an arm of the USDA, to study the epidemiology of bacterial spot in tomatoes.

“Through this research, we hope to more quickly and effectively respond to changes in the pathogen that cause more disease problems in the field,” Goss says.

“We’re studying epidemics. Plant disease epidemiology does not often include the possibility that the pathogen evolves within or between seasons,” said Goss, who works at the main UF/IFAS campus in Gainesville, FL. “We are going to look at the effect of pathogen evolution — including the gain and loss of genes that we have observed to have occurred in Florida — on the spread of the pathogen from plant to plant.”

The pathogen Xanthomonas perforans, which constantly changes, causes bacterial spot in Florida tomatoes.

Goss and her team want to find out how quickly the pathogen changes — and how it changes — so they can keep track of bacterial spot in tomatoes.

To find the problematic pathogen strains, scientists will use high-throughput genetic testing.

“We will send a genome-sequencing center the extracted DNA from hundreds of bacterial strains, and the technology will send us data we can use to study the genomes of these strains,” Goss says.

Read more here.

Photo: Bacterial spot lesions on tomatoes. (Gary Vallad, University of Florida)

Source and Photo Courtesy of Greenhouse Grower




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