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Annu Rev Phytopathol. 2002;40:443-65. Epub 2002 Feb 20.

Antibiotic use in plant agriculture.

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  • 1Department of Plant Pathology, University of Wisconsin, Madison 53706-1598, USA. psm@plantpath.wisc.edu

Abstract

Antibiotics have been used since the 1950s to control certain bacterial diseases of high-value fruit, vegetable, and ornamental plants. Today, the antibiotics most commonly used on plants are oxytetracycline and streptomycin. In the USA, antibiotics applied to plants account for less than 0.5% of total antibiotic use. Resistance of plant pathogens to oxytetracycline is rare, but the emergence of streptomycin-resistant strains of Erwinia amylovora, Pseudomonas spp., and Xanthomonas campestris has impeded the control of several important diseases. A fraction of streptomycin-resistance genes in plant-associated bacteria are similar to those found in bacteria isolated from humans, animals, and soil, and are associated with transfer-proficient elements. However, the most common vehicles of streptomycin-resistance genes in human and plant pathogens are genetically distinct. Nonetheless, the role of antibiotic use on plants in the antibiotic-resistance crisis in human medicine is the subject of debate.

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