Studies on the interaction between the biocontrol agent, Serratia plymuthica A30, and blackleg-causing Dickeya sp. (biovar 3) in potato (Solanum tuberosum)




Interactions between Serratia plymuthica A30 and a blackleg-causing biovar 3 Dickeya sp. were examined. In a potato slice assay, S. plymuthica A30 inhibited tissue maceration caused by Dickeya sp. IPO2222 when co-inoculated at a density at least 10 times greater than that of the pathogen. In glasshouse experiments, population dynamics of the antagonist and of the pathogen in planta were studied by dilution plating and confocal laser scanning microscopy (CLSM) using fluorescent protein-tagged strains. Pathogen-free minitubers were vacuum-infiltrated with DsRed-tagged Dickeya sp. IPO2222 and superficially treated during planting with a water suspension containing GFP-tagged S. plymuthica A30. A30 reduced the blackleg incidence from 55% to 0%. Both the pathogen and the antagonist colonized the seed potato tubers internally within 1 day post-inoculation (dpi). Between 1 and 7 dpi, the population of A30 in tubers increased from 101 to c. 103 CFU g−1 and subsequently remained stable until the end of the experiment (28 dpi). Populations of A30 in stems and roots increased from c. 102 to c. 104 CFU g−1 between 7 and 28 dpi. Dilution plating and CLSM studies showed that A30 decreased the density of Dickeya sp. populations in plants. Dilution plating combined with microscopy allowed the enumeration of strain A30 and its visualization in the vascular tissues of stem and roots and in the pith of roots, as well as its adherence to and colonization of the root surface. The implications of these finding for the use of S. plymuthica A30 as a biocontrol agent are discussed.