Systemic movement of Agrobacterium tumefaciens in several plant species
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Aims: The systemic movement of Agrobacterium spp. inside plants of different species was studied to determine the most valuable diagnostic methodology for their detection. Methods and Results: Pathogenic agrobacteria were detected by isolation and PCR in tissue away from primary tumours in tomato plants grown in the presence of Agrobacterium spp. Moreover, this bacterium was also able to induce secondary tumours beyond the inoculation site. In addition, the capacity of agrobacteria to translocate and induce secondary tumours was analysed in rose, grapevine, chrysanthemum, cherry and peach x almond hybrid GF677. No differences among strains of Agrobacterium spp. were detected in secondary tumour development, although some of them induced a significantly higher number of primary tumours in some species. Movement of inoculated pathogenic cells of four strains was also demonstrated in symptomless portions of the plant stems by isolation and PCR. Finally, pathogenic agrobacteria were detected in root, crown and stem portions of naturally infected walnuts. In all assays, PCR was the most efficient technique for detecting the movement of Agrobacterium spp. within the plants. Conclusions: Migration of agrobacteria inside plants is a complex phenomenon and more extensive than previously reported. Therefore, efficient and sensitive detection methods such as PCR must be used to select clean plants to avoid latent infections of Agrobacterium spp. Significance and Impact of the Study: The results show that migration of Agrobacterium spp. could be relatively frequent in several cultivated fruit trees, and systemic infections should be taken into account when designing strategies for controlling crown gall disease.