Contribution of native plasmids to fitness of Pantoea vagans C9-1, a biological control agent for fire blight of apple and pear Public

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  • Pantoea vagans C9-1 (C9-1) is a biological control agent sprayed onto apple and pear trees during bloom for suppression of fire blight, a devastating bacterial disease caused by Erwinia amylovora. Prior bioinformatics studies of C9-1 focused on predicted phenotypes associated with the three native megaplasmids, pPag1, pPag2, and pPag3, and their putative role in environmental fitness. This study is the first to monitor fitness of C9-1 derivatives cured of pPag2 and/or pPag3 on pear and apple flowers and fruit in experimental orchards. In laboratory assays, I determined that phenotypes associated with tolerance of environmental stress were compromised in derivatives of C9-1 lacking pPag2 and/or pPag3, but the loss of pPag2 and/or pPag3 did not reduce fitness of C9-1 on flowers in orchards. In long-term survival studies in orchards, I found that, of the two plasmids studied, only pPag3 contributed to survival on developing apple and pear fruit. Key Words: pPag2, pPag3, microbial ecology, Erwinia amylovora
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