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Int J Syst Evol Microbiol. 2015 Mar;65(Pt 3):811-26. doi: 10.1099/ijs.0.000022. Epub 2014 Dec 6.

Seed-associated subspecies of the genus Clavibacter are clearly distinguishable from Clavibacter michiganensis subsp. michiganensis.

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Departments of Molecular Biosciences and Bioengineering, College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources, University of Hawai'i at Mānoa, 3190 Maile Way, St. John Room 315, Honolulu, HI 96822, USA.
Plant and Environmental Protection Sciences, College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources, University of Hawai'i at Mānoa, 3190 Maile Way, St. John Room 315, Honolulu, HI 96822, USA


The genus Clavibacter contains one recognized species, Clavibacter michiganensis. Clavibacter michiganensis is subdivided into subspecies based on host specificity and bacteriological characteristics, with Clavibacter michiganensis subsp. michiganensis causing bacterial canker of tomato. Clavibacter michiganensis subsp. michiganensis is often spread through contaminated seed leading to outbreaks of bacterial canker in tomato production areas worldwide. The frequent occurrence of non-pathogenic Clavibacter michiganensis subsp. michiganensis-like bacteria (CMB) is a concern for seed producers because Clavibacter michiganensis subsp. michiganensis is a quarantine organism and detection of a non-pathogenic variant may result in destruction of an otherwise healthy seed lot. A thorough biological and genetic characterization of these seed-associated CMB strains was performed using standard biochemical tests, cell wall analyses, metabolic profiling using Biolog, and single-gene and multilocus sequence analyses. Combined, these tests revealed two distinct populations of seed-associated members of the genus Clavibacter that differed from each other, as well as from all other described subspecies of Clavibacter michiganensis. DNA-DNA hybridization values are 70 % or higher, justifying placement into the single recognized species, C. michiganensis, but other analyses justify separate subspecies designations. Additionally, strains belonging to the genus Clavibacter isolated from pepper also represent a distinct population and warrant separate subspecies designation. On the basis of these data we propose subspecies designations for separate non-pathogenic subpopulations of Clavibacter michiganensis: Clavibacter michiganensis subsp. californiensis subsp. nov. and Clavibacter michiganensis subsp. chilensis subsp. nov. for seed-associated strains represented by C55(T) ( = ATCC BAA-2691(T) = CFBP 8216(T)) and ZUM3936(T) ( = ATCC BAA-2690(T) = CFBP 8217(T)), respectively. Recognition of separate subspecies is essential for improved international seed testing operations.

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