Journal of Plant Pathology


S. Gayder, A.J. Castle, A.M. Svircev. (2019). Phage-mediated biocontrol of Erwinia amylovora: screening for the ideal carrier. J Plant Pathol. 101: 849-83


The use of bacteriophages as a potential replacement, or supplement, to antibiotics for the control of bacterial pathogens is a continually expanding area of research. Pantoea agglomerans, an orchard epiphyte with antagonistic properties against Erwinia amylovora, is able to act as a carrier to phages which target the pathogen. Infection of P. agglomerans allows for the delivery of protected phages onto the blossom, where they
can then populate the stigma surface. The strain of P. agglomerans chosen as a carrier is critical to the efficacy of the biological. Wild type isolates of P. agglomerans were collected from the Niagara region of southern
Ontario, and 24 isolates were screened against four species of E. amylovora phages. The use of the classical soft agar overlay technique remains highly prevalent in the literature to study phage-host interactions
but producing quantitative data from this technique can be highly variable and time-consuming. To study phage proliferation on a specific host we developed a small-scale broth-based protocol. This method uses plasmid
standardized quantitative PCR to quantify phage genomes produced after 8 h. Using this methodology carriers capable of producing all four species of phages were easily identified. This allowed us to choose an ideal carrier
for a phage-mediated biocontrol treatment and also facilitated further study into phage-host population dynamics and comparative genomic studies to model their interactions.

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