Mechanisms of antagonism of Pseudomonas fluorescens EPS62e against Erwinia amylovora, the causal agent of fire blight

Pseudomonas fluorescens EPS62e was selected during a screening procedure for its high efficacy in controlling infections by Erwinia amylovora, the causal agent of fire blight disease, on different plant materials. In field trials carried out in pear trees during bloom, EPS62e colonized flowers until the carrying capacity, providing a moderate efficacy of fire-blight control. The putative mechanisms of EPS62e antagonism against E. amylovora were studied. EPS62e did not produce antimicrobial compounds described in P. fluorescens species and only developed antagonism in King’s B medium, where it produced siderophores. Interaction experiments in culture plate wells including a membrane filter, which physically separated the cultures, confirmed that inhibition of E. amylovora requires cell-to-cell contact. The spectrum of nutrient assimilation indicated that EPS62e used significantly more or different carbon sources than the pathogen. The maximum growth rate and affinity for nutrients in immature fruit extract were higher in EPS62e than in E. amylovora, but the cell yield was similar. The fitness of EPS62e and E. amylovora was studied upon inoculation in immature pear fruit wounds and hypanthia of intact flowers under controlled-environment conditions. When inoculated separately, EPS62e grew faster in flowers, whereas E. amylovora grew faster in fruit wounds because of its rapid spread to adjacent tissues. However, in preventive inoculations of EPS62e, subsequent growth of EPS101 was significantly inhibited. It is concluded that cell-to-cell interference as well as differences in growth potential and the spectrum and efficiency of nutrient use are mechanisms of antagonism of EPS62e against E. amylovora ​
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