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Prediction infection risk on the basis of weather-related factors and Erwinia amylovora colonization in apple and pear flowers
Published May 10, 2004

Current infection risk prediction models utilize environmental parameters and field records, but do not take into account the estimated inoculum potential within the orchard. The object of this study was to survey the accuracy of three simple prediction methods under Hungarian climatic conditions, which could easily be used by the farmers. We a...lso tested whether the accuracy of infection risk predictions can be improved by taking into consideration the incidence and/or rate of flower colonization by Erwinia amylovora.

After preliminary investigations in 1999-2001, data concerning the weather-related infection risk were recorded in 5 apple and 1 pear orchards in 2002, and in 12 apple and I pear orchards in 2003. The weather data were processed by the easy-to-use risk assessment models of the mean temperature prediction line (MTL), Smith's Cougarblight 98C and Billing's integrated system (BIS), and by the MaryblytTM 4.3 computer-assisted model for reference. The population size of E. amylovora in the flower samples was estimated within an order of magnitude by PCR.

For all years and orchards tested, Maryblyt indicated 35 days on which there was an acute infection risk. The same days were indicated by all 3 methods in 23 cases (66%), 8 days were indicated by 2 methods (23%) and 4 days were indicated by 1 method only. A similarly good correlation was found for prediction of the date of the first massive infection risk: in 2003, for instance, there was a perfectly consistent prediction by all 4 models in 9 of the 13 participating orchards. A coincidental forecast was provided by 3 of the 4 models in the other 4 orchards.

The results indicate that any of the risk assessment models could provide an increased accuracy of the actual infection risk prediction if combined with an estimation of the incidence of Erwinia amylovora colonization in the open flowers. We found no convincing differences in the size of the epiphytic population in flowers of cultivars possessing high or low susceptibility to Erwinia amylovora.

We conclude that the easy-to-use methods tested could be used by the fanners to recognize weather-related risks, especially when coupled with an estimation of the proportion of the pathogen-infested flowers. This local prediction would provide rapid information (faster than the regional forecast systems) specifically for a given orchard.

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Some structural characteristics of the flowers of apple cultivars with different susceptibilty to fire blight
Published May 10, 2004

Several morphological characters of the hypanthium (size and form of the surface, the shape of the hypanthium) and anatomical traits (number and pattern of stomata) of apple cultivars (Malus domestica L.) with different susceptibility to fire blight were studied. The size of hypantium surface was calculated by modelling the hypanthium ...with a truncated cone. Three types of hypanthium surface form have been revealed: straight, convex and a complex "shouldered" one. The angle between the style and the wall of the hypanthium was narrow or wide. The stomata on the hypanthium surface can be arranged in a zone in the middle third of the hypanthium or dispersed more or less evenly. The number of stomata/flower substantially differed among the cultivars examined. The highest stomata number was detected in the flowers of the tolerant cultivar (Freedom)

No single characteristics of the hypanthium could convincingly be correlated with susceptibility to fire blight. We suggest, however, that combination of morphological properties that sustain moist environment in the hypanthium contribute to susceptibility.

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Study of Erwinia amylovora colonization and migration on blossoms of susceptible and tolerant apple cultivars
Published May 10, 2004

The stigmata of detached flowers of susceptible and tolerant apple cultivars were inoculated with about 104 gfp labeled Erwinia amylovora . There were no apparent differences in the colonization, multiplication and survival of the bacteria on the stigmatic surface of the culivars. Bacteria were washed down to the hy...panthium surface 24 hours after inoculation. The visual symptoms of the infection were the discoloration and shrinkage of the floral parts. The gradual browning associated with the infection appeared first on the surface of the hypanthium followed by the discoloration of the style. The color of the filaments turned into brown only 120 hours after the inoculation. Bacterial cells were not detected in the tissues of the styles and filaments. The traits of the hypanthium surface are of prominent importance in the progression of the infection. The wrinkled surface, the convex shape of the outer epidermal cell walls with thin cuticle and the sunken stomata helped to preserve a water film for a longer period providing medium for the motility of the bacteria in the susceptible cultivar. Bacteria were restricted to small water droplets on the flat and waxy surface of the hypanthium of the tolerant cultivar and only a few were able to enter the tissues.

Large bacterium aggregations were detected in the intercellular spaces of the parenchyma of the susceptible cultivar 48 hours after the inoculation. In the next period the Erwinia amylovora cells gradually invaded the intercellulars of the hypanthium wall, the wall of the ovary and the pedicel. Low level of bacterium aggregation was found in the intercellulars of the tolerant cultivars. It is suggested that the progression of the infection was inhibited also by physiological factors.

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