The Potential Interaction of Salmonella enterica and Ralstonia solanacearum in Tomato Plants


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Virginia Tech


Over the past decade, the Eastern Shore of Virginia (ESV) has been implicated in at least four outbreaks of Salmonellosis associated with tomato all originating from the same strain, Salmonella enterica serovar Newport.  In addition to S. Newport contamination, the devastating plant disease, bacterial wilt, caused by the phytopathogen Ralstonia solanacearum threatens the sustainability of ESV tomato production.  Bacterial wilt is present in most ESV tomato fields and causes devastating yield losses each year.  Due to the ESV's endemic population of R. solanacearum and S. Newport, the relationship between the two pathogens is of interest and has never been investigated.  Two separate studies were conducted to assess the relationship between these two bacteria.  One study consisted of a series of greenhouse trials that involved root-dip inoculations of tomato plants with one of four treatments: 1) S. Newport, 2) R. solanacearum, 3) a co-inoculation of S. Newport + R. solanacearum, and 4) a control group with no inoculation. Leaf, stem, and fruit samples were collected from the plants and S. enterica presence from the internal tissues was observed.  S. enterica was recovered from a low percentage of fruit and leaf samples.  There were significantly more stem samples from plants co-inoculated with S. Newport + R. solanacearum positive for S. enterica (17.46%) than from other treatments.  Another study examined the relationship between the two bacteria via vacuum infiltration inoculations of tomato fruit collected from commercial production fields on the ESV with S. Newport.  Tomato fruit were collected from plants expressing symptoms of bacterial wilt (symptomatic) and plants not expressing bacterial wilt symptoms (asymptomatic).  After fruit infiltration with S. Newport, recovery concentration of S. enterica from internal tissues was measured.  S. enterica populations were greater in fruit originating from asymptomatic (5.15 log CFU/g) versus symptomatic (4.91 log CFU/g) plants across five studies.  Fruit collected from asymptomatic plants had a significantly higher internal pH (4.60) than fruit collected from symptomatic plants (4.37).  These results suggest that R. solanacearum can influence S. enterica survival and transportation throughout the internal tissues of tomato plants as well as the influence internal tomato fruit pH, which could potentially impact S. Newport survival in the fruit.



Salmonella enterica Newport, Ralstonia solanacearum, food safety, bacterial wilt