Rathayibacter toxicus

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from left to right: (a) nematode (Anguina funesta) gall colonised by the toxigenic bacterium, Rathayibacter toxicus, (b) Anguina funesta gall, (c) Lolium rigidum seed, and (d) Lolium rigidum diaspore (click on image to enlarge it)
Author(s): Ian Riley, Adelaide, Australia
Source: Wikimedia Commons

Rathayibacter toxicus (Riley and Ophel 1992) Sasaki et al. 1998

This bacterium causes annual ryegrass toxicity in western and southern Australia. The disease is often fatal to grazing animals. Several million hectares of farmland are affected. Mainly annual ryegrass (Lolium rigidum) becomes infected and corynetoxins are produces by the bacterium, apparently through the association with a bacteriophage. The toxins cause neurological symptoms in livestock like staggering which may result in death of the animals.

The bacterium is transmitted into the inflorescences of the grasses by the nematode Anguina funesta when these colonize and form galls in the developing seeds. Management consists mainly of the use of herbicides to suppress Lolium rigidum.

Synonyms:
Clavibacter toxicus