• Bacteriophages of Erwinia amylovora and their potential use in biological control

      Gill, Jason J.; Department of Biological Sciences (Brock University, 2000-11-04)
      Forty-four bacteriophage isolates of Erwinia amy/ovora, the causal agent of fire blight, were collected from sites in and around the Niagara Region of Southern Ontario in the summer of 1998. Phages were isolated only from sites where fire blight was present. Thirty-seven of these phages were isolated from the soil surrounding infected trees, with the remainder isolated from aerial plant tissue samples. A mixture of six E. amy/ovora bacterial host strains was used to enrich field samples in order to avoid the selection bias of a single-host system. Molecular characterization of the phages with a combination of peR and restriction endonuclease digestions showed that six distinct phage types were isolated. Ten phage isolates related to the previously characterized E. amy/ovora phage PEa1 were isolated, with some divergence of molecular markers between phages isolated from different sites. The host ranges of the phages revealed that certain types were unable to efficiently lyse some E. amy/ovora strains, and that some types were able to lyse the epiphytic bacterium Pantoea agg/omerans. Biological control of E. amy/ovora by the bacteriophages was assessed in a bioassay using discs of immature pear fruit. Twenty-three phage isolates were able to significantly suppress the incidence of bacterial exudate on the pear disc surface. Quantification of the bacterial population remaining on the disc surface indicated that population reductions of up to 97% were obtainable by phage treatment, but that elimination of bacteria from the surface was not possible with this model system.