Erwinia spp. from pome fruit trees: similarities and differences among pathogenic and non-pathogenic species
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The number of described pathogenic and nonpathogenic Erwinia species associated with pome fruit trees, especially pear trees, has increased in recent years, but updated comparative information about their similarities and differences is scarce. The causal agent of the fire blight disease of rosaceous plants, Erwinia amylovora, is the most studied species of this genus. Recently described species that are pathogenic to pear trees include Erwinia pyrifoliae in Korea and Japan, Erwinia spp. in Japan, and Erwinia piriflorinigrans in Spain. E. pyrifoliae causes symptoms that are indistinguishable from those of fire blight in Asian pear trees, Erwinia spp. from Japan cause black lesions on several cultivars of pear trees, and E. piriflorinigrans causes necrosis of only pear blossoms. All these novel species share some phenotypic and genetic characteristics with E. amylovora. Non-pathogenic Erwinia species are Erwinia billingiae and Erwinia tasmaniensis that have also been described on pome fruits; however, less information is available on these species. We present an updated review on the phenotypic and molecular characteristics, habitat, pathogenicity, and epidemiology of E. amylovora, E. pyrifoliae, Erwinia spp. from Japan, E. piriflorinigrans, E. billingiae, and E. tasmaniensis. In addition, the interaction of these species with pome fruit trees is discussed.