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Phytopathology. 2004 Dec;94(12):1286-94. doi: 10.1094/PHYTO.2004.94.12.1286.

Bioavailability of Iron to Pseudomonas fluorescens Strain A506 on Flowers of Pear and Apple.


The addition of 0.1 mM FeCl(3) to a defined culture medium induces the bacterial epiphyte Pseudomonas fluorescens strain A506 (A506) to produce an antibiotic toxic to the fire blight pathogen, Erwinia amylovora. Consequently, because A506 is registered and applied as a commercial product to suppress E. amylovora before floral infection of pear and apple, the relative availability of iron to A506 on surfaces of pear and apple flowers is of potential significance. An 'iron biosensor' construct of A506 was developed by transformation with an iron-regulated promoter (pvd) fused to a promoterless ice nucleation reporter gene (inaZ). This construct, A506 (pvd-inaZ), established high populations on pear and apple flowers, ranging from 10(4) to 10(6) CFU/flower. In seven trials on pear and apple trees, A506 (pvd-inaZ) expressed high ice nucleation activity (INA) on flowers, indicating limited iron bioavailability or a low-iron environment unlikely to induce antibiotic production by A506. A506 (pvd-inaZ) also colonized flowers when mixed with chemicals containing iron: FeSO(4) or the iron chelates ferric ethylenediaminedi-(o-hydroxyphenyl-acetic) acid (FeEDDHA) and ferric diethylenetriamine pentaacetate (FeDTPA). These compounds represent an array of commercial iron formulations applied to foliage to avert iron chlorosis. Treatment of flowers with a mixture of A506 (pvd-inaZ) and 3 mM FeEDDHA or FeDTPA significantly decreased INA compared with flowers treated with A506 (pvd-inaZ) in water. Lower concentrations (0.3 mM) of FeEDDHA, however, did not consistently suppress INA. These results indicate that apple and pear flowers represent an iron-limited environment to A506 and that treatment with 3 mM FeEDDHA is needed to increase significantly the level of iron available to this bacterium.

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