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Molecular and physiological properties of bacteriophages from North America and Germany affecting the fire blight pathogene Erwinia amylovora

For possible control of fire blight affecting apple and pear trees, we characterized Erwinia amylovora phages from North America and Germany. The genome size determined by electron microscopy (EM) was confirmed by sequence data and major coat proteins were identified from gel bands by mass spectroscopy. By their morphology from EM data, fEa1h and fEa100 were assigned to the Podoviridae and fEa104 and fEa116 to the Myoviridae. Host ranges were essentially confined to E. amylovora, strains of the species Erwinia pyrifoliae, E. billingiae and even Pantoea stewartii were partially sensitive. The phages fEa1h and fEa100 were dependent on the amylovoran capsule of E. amylovora, fEa104 and fEa116 were not. The Myoviridae efficiently lysed their hosts and protected apple flowers significantly better than the Podoviridae against E. amylovora and should be preferred in biocontrol experiments. We have also isolated and partially characterized E. amylovora phages from apple orchards in Germany. They belong to the Podoviridae or Myoviridae with a host range similar to the phages isolated in North America. In EM measurements, the genome sizes of the Podoviridae were smaller than the genomes of the Myoviridae from North America and from Germany, which differed from each other in corresponding nucleotide sequences.



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