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The ecoBotanicals team has been developing products for the treatment bacterial infections in plants for the passed 3 years for the Agricultural Industry.
Gram negative bacteria have a narrow cell wall and a relatively impermeable lipid membrane. They are so called because of the technique used to identify them.
Gram negative bacteria are more resistant against bacteria possibly because this lipid membrane is hydrophobic. We speculate that some of our products , although delivered as water soluble products , is still an oil and can penetrate this cell wall more easily than other antibiotics.
The important thing is; PSA in kiwifruit, Citrus Greening and Citrus Canker are all gram negative bacteria. If we can successfully treat one it is likely we will be able to successfully treat all three. What we have discovered so far is that PSA can be successfully treated in kiwifruit and initial trials in citrus greening are about to commence.
Gram-negative bacteria are bacteria that do not retain crystal violet dye in the Gram Staining Protocol (GSP). In a GSP test, a counter stain (commonly safranin) is added after the crystal violet, coloring all gram-negative bacteria with a red or pink colour. The counter stain is used to visualize the otherwise-colorless gram-negative bacteria whose much thinner peptidoglycan layer does not retain crystal violet. The test itself is useful in classifying two distinct types of bacteria based on the structural differences of their bacterial cell walls. Gram-positive bacteria have a thicker cell wall, which can retain the crystal violet dye when washed in a decolorizing solution. Compared with gram-positive bacteria, gram-negative bacteria are more resistant against antibiotics, despite their thinner peptidoglycan layer, because of their additional, relatively impermeable lipid membrane.
The pathogenic capability of gram-negative bacteria is often associated with certain components of gram-negative cell envelope, in particular, the lipopolysaccharide layer (also known as LPS or endotoxin layer). In humans, LPS triggers an innate immune response characterized by cytokine production and immune system activation. Inflammation is a common result of cytokine (from the Greek cyto, cell and kinesis, movement) production, which can also produce host toxicity. The innate immune response to LPS, however, is not synonymous with pathogenicity, or the ability to cause disease. In fact, the innate immune response is triggered by LPS alone, isolated from bacteria.
Citrus canker is a gram negative bacterium infecting the phloem region of the plant. It is spread by wind and rain from bacteria oozing from infected plants. The bacterium enters the plant through any wounds in the leaf, fruit, stem, branches or trunk.
Citrus greening is a gram negative bacterium infecting the phloem region of the plant. It is spread by the citrus psyllid which, once it has fed upon an infected plant, can infect subsequent plants it feeds upon.
PSA is a gram negative bacterium that affects kiwifruit. It is spread by wind and rain from bacterial ooze and invades the plant through any wounds. It resides between the proteins in the leaf until favorable conditions then it attacks the plant. The plants own natural defense mechanism is to kill off that affected cane and the bacterium feeds on the decaying matter. In its natural state this is of little importance to the vine as it is prolific, sending out numerous vines. In an orchard setting only two leaders are kept. So an infection can easily result in the loss of 50% of the plant and in extreme cases total destruction. PSA is most active when it is cold and wet.
In all three diseases the buds and subsequent flowers can be affected resulting in infertile and or misshapen fruit (fruit with no commercial value). Citrus canker and citrus greening can also result in discolored and bitter tasting fruit. PSA can cause fruit to drop from the vine prematurely.
Once the phloem is infected the bacteria will spread towards the sinks. As new leaf is sprouting and maturing; phloem and bacteria flow towards the leaf. While flowers are forming; phloem and bacteria flow towards the flowers. While fruit are forming and maturing; phloem and bacteria flow towards the fruit. After harvest; phloem and bacteria flow towards the roots.
In our view there are two critical times to treat all three of these diseases.
Treatment One : just prior to bud burst and flowering, to protect the commercial value of the crop.This may require a folia fertilizer and a slow release ground fertilizer to treat the whole plant. In our view a folia application will have only a limited effect and the ground application is most important for the whole plant treatment. However to protect the crop a folia application may be necessary.
Treatment Two : immediately post-harvest, to protect the plant , we believe a folia fertiliser would be the best approach to treating the plant at this time. The phloem flow is back towards the roots so in this manner the whole plant can be treated. It is also the time the plant is most vulnerable due to the wounds created by harvesting (citrus canker and PSA) and the insects are most disturbed (citrus greening) . Citrus are surface feeders so we believe a ground spray followed up with a slow release soil fertilizer as well as a folia spray may be required for treatment one. Treatment two will only need a folia spray with optional slow release pellets.
Kiwifruit , we believe may be successfully treated for PSA with a folia application alone. We do believe that a slow release ground application in spring will provide additional protection. In addition if there is a cold wet period it is not advisable to spray (flowering to skin on fruit hardening period) and in this period a ground application would be ideal. Note Kiwifruit are susceptible to a fungal disease, native to New Zealand, which could also be treated with the same ground application.