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Appl Environ Microbiol. 2006 Apr;72(4):2421-7.

Assessment of the environmental fate of the biological control agent of fire blight, Pseudomonas fluorescens EPS62e, on apple by culture and real-time PCR methods.

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Institute of Food and Agricultural Technology-CIDSAV-CeRTA, University of Girona, Campus Montilivi, 17071 Girona, Spain.


The colonization of apple blossoms and leaves by Pseudomonas fluorescens EPS62e was monitored in greenhouse and field trials using cultivable cell counting and real-time PCR. The real-time PCR provided a specific quantitative method for the detection of strain EPS62e. The detection level was around 10(2) cells g (fresh weight)(-1) and the standard curve was linear within a 5-log range. EPS62e actively colonized flowers reaching values from 10(7) to 10(8) cells per blossom. In apple flowers, no significant differences were observed between population levels obtained by real-time PCR and plating, suggesting that viable but nonculturable (VBNC) cells and residual nondegraded DNA were not present. In contrast, on apple leaves, where cultivable populations of EPS62e decreased with time, significant differences were observed between real-time PCR and plating. These differences indicate the presence of VBNC cells or nondegraded DNA after cell death. Therefore, the EPS62e population was under optimal conditions during the colonization of flowers but it was stressed and poorly survived on leaves. It was concluded that for monitoring this biological control agent, the combined use of cultivable cell count and real-time PCR is necessary.

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