• Actinidia spp.;
  • argK gene;
  • bacterial canker;
  • biosecurity;
  • multilocus sequence analysis;
  • quarantine

Several published polymerase chain reaction (PCR) primers to identify Pseudomonas syringae pv. actinidiae, the causal organism of bacterial canker of kiwifruit, were found not to be specific. Two new sets of PCR primers, PsaF1/R2 and PsaF3/R4, were designed to be complementary to a portion of the 16S–23S rDNA intertranscribed spacer (ITS) regions. These primers amplified a DNA fragment from strains of P. syringae pv. actinidiae, but not from 56 strains of bacteria from six genera and 17 species, except for a strain of the tea pathogen, P. syringae pv. theae. When tested against DNA extracted from a further 20 strains from Japan, Korea, Italy and the USA deposited in culture collections as P. syringae pv. actinidiae, all except six cultures produced the expected product of 280 bp with PsaF1/R2 and 175 bp with PsaF3/R4. Results of multilocus sequence analysis using five housekeeping genes (gyrB, acnB, rpoD, pgi and cts) showed that none of these six strains was phylogenetically similar to P. syringae pv. actinidiae. In contrast to the P. syringae pv. actinidiae type strain, these strains were positive in the determinative tests for ice nucleation and syringomycin production. It is suggested that these six strains were incorrectly identified as P. syringae pv. actinidiae. It was not possible to distinguish P. syringae pv. actinidiae from the phylogenetically similar P. syringae pv. theae using the ITS, gyrB, acnB, rpoD, pgi or cts gene regions to design PCR primers. Because P. syringae pv. theae is unlikely to be found on kiwifruit, primers PsaF1/R2 and PsaF3/R4 are recommended for screening bacteria isolated from kiwifruit tissue.