Phytopathology (2017) 107, 804-815

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Timothy D. Murray, Brenda K. Schroeder, William L. Schneider, Douglas G. Luster, Aaron Sechler, Elizabeth E. Rogers and Sergei A. Subbotin (2017)
Rathayibacter toxicus, other Rathayibacter species inducing bacterial head blight of grasses, and the potential for livestock poisonings
Phytopathology 107 (7), 804-815
Abstract: Rathayibacter toxicus, a Select Agent in the United States, is one of six recognized species in the genus Rathayibacter and the best known due to its association with annual ryegrass toxicity, which occurs only in parts of Australia. The Rathayibacter species are unusual among phytopathogenic bacteria in that they are transmitted by anguinid seed gall nematodes and produce extracellular polysaccharides in infected plants resulting in bacteriosis diseases with common names such as yellow slime and bacterial head blight. R. toxicus is distinguished from the other species by producing corynetoxins in infected plants; toxin production is associated with infection by a bacteriophage. These toxins cause grazing animals feeding on infected plants to develop convulsions and abnormal gate, which is referred to as "staggers," and often results in death of affected animals. R. toxicus is the only recognized Rathayibacter species to produce toxin, although reports of livestock deaths in the United States suggest a closely related toxigenic species may be present. A closely related but undescribed species, Rathayibacter sp. EV, originally isolated from Ehrharta villosa var. villosa in South Africa, is suspected of producing toxin. Many of the diseases caused by Rathayibacter species occur in arid areas and the extracellular polysaccharide they produce is believed to aid in their survival between crops. For example, R. "agropyri" was isolated from infected plant material after being stored for 50 years in a herbarium. Similarly, the anguinid vectors associated with these bacteria form seed galls in infected plants and are capable of surviving for very long periods of time under dry conditions. The addition of R. toxicus to the list of Select Agents has raised concern over its potential introduction and a realization that current diagnostic methods are inadequate to distinguish among Rathayibacter species. In addition, little is known about the Rathayibacter species and their seed gall nematode vectors present in the United States.
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Database assignments for author(s): T.D. Murray

Research topic(s) for pests/diseases/weeds:
general biology - morphology - evolution


Pest and/or beneficial records:

Beneficial Pest/Disease/Weed Crop/Product Country Quarant.
Rathayibacter toxicus Grasses/turf/rangeland