Biological watermelon (Citrullus lanatus L.) seed treatments for control of Acidovorax citrulli
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Acidovorax citrulli is a seedborne pathogen responsible for bacterial fruit blotch (BFB), an economically important disease in melon and watermelon throughout the world. BFB is highly virulent and in affected fields can cause yield reduction of up to 95%, which has resulted in over $100,000 in losses to melon growers in some cases. The efficacy of green tea as an antimicrobial seed treatment against A. citrulli was tested. Watermelon seeds were treated with green tea after inoculation with transgenic A. citrulli expressing green fluorescent protein (GFP). Forty five percent of watermelon seedlings inoculated with a high level (OD600:1.0, ~8 x 108 cells/ml) of A. citrulli displayed GFP in their cotyledons. When these seeds were treated with green tea, only 11.2% displayed GFP in their cotyledons. None of the treated watermelon seedlings inoculated with a low level (OD600:0.001, ~8 x 105 cells/ml) of A. citrulli displayed GFP in their cotyledons. Green tea treatments effectively controlled the disease when administered as a liquid to infected watermelon seeds. Green tea has potential as an effective commercial treatment for pericarp infected seeds that could also be used by growers participating in the National Organic Program.