Erwinia carotovora subsp. carotovora (Jones) Berqey et al. - Slimy Bacteriosis (Soft Rot) of Cabbage.

Systematic position.

Kingdom Procaryotae, section Gram-negative aerobic rods and cocci, family Enterobacteriaceae, genus Erwinia.


Erwinia carotovora (Jones) Holland; E. aroideae (Towsend) Holland; Pectobacterium carotovorum (Jones) Waldee; Pectobacterium aroideae (Towsend) Waldee.

Biological group.


Morphology and biology.

First symptoms of the disease appear in the second part of vegetation season during the formation of heads. Pathogen penetrates into the plant through damaged outer leaves or through a stump from the ground. Indistinct oily spots appear on the affected leaves. These spots quickly spread to the entire leaf plate. Later the leaves darken, become slimy, and decay. Infected stump softens and becomes cream-colored at first, later light-gray. The infection may reach a point of growth during slow rotting of the stump, but the disease remains unnoticed for a long time. At strong lesion the heads break in field conditions. The infected area inside heads decay completely in storehouses. As a rule, they become the centers of soft rot. Storage conditions can influence the Slimy Bacteriosis infection development in cabbage heads during the winter period. Low temperatures (-1 to +2°C) slow down rotting substantially. However, these processes become active during vegetation after landing of infected stumps in field. The internal part of stumps decays; therefore, one can observe loss of some already growing seed shoots already growing. Cells of E. carotovora subsp. carotovora are straight bacilli, usually 0.6-1.8 x 1.7-5.1 mkm. Moving by peritrichous flagella. Gram-negative. Facultative anaerob. No resting stage. Colonies are fine, blue, rounded (with erose margins) on potato agar. They are very visible in 2-3 days of growth. Pathogen forms blue colonies in big cup-like deepenings on Logan.s media. Bacteria E. carotovora subsp. carotovora have a complex of pectolitic and proteolitic enzymes, which macerate plant tissue. Diluting gelatin. Reducing (some strains can peptonize) litmus milk. Forming H2S and NH3. Not forming indol. Not hydrolyzing starch. Bacteria have catalase-positive and oxidase-negative reaction. Optimum temperature for growth is 24-28°C, maximum 37°C. Sources of bacterial infection are the infected vegetation residues and stumps, irrigation water, rhizosphere of vegetable and some weed plants, and insects.


The Slimy Bacteriosis of cabbage is present in all countries of the world. It is widely distributed in all territories of the former Soviet Union where this culture is growing.


Bacteriosis causes the greatest harm in areas with rather high temperature and increased air humidity during the vegetative period. The most intensive rotting occurs at high temperature (optimum temperature for the pathogen is 25-27°C) and long damp weather (especially at intensive rains and relative humidity of air of 50% or higher). The bacteriosis severity is especially high in storehouses if storing production is infected with the pathogen and in the field on seed shoots in the next vegetation period.

Economic significance.

Pathogen attacks a broad circle of cultural and weed plants (more than 100 species) belonging to various families. Besides crucifer plants (all species of cabbage, garden radish, turnip, and others), potato, carrots, onions, celery, asparagus, pepper, tomato, chicory, coriander, cucumber, melon, wild strawberry, pear, hyacinth, iris, tobacco, string bean, and many others also belong to susceptible cultures. The Slimy Bacteriosis severity on cabbage consists in affection of plants in nurseries and in open ground, during storage time, and also in affection of parent plants landed for seeds. Severity is particularly high in years with warm and damp weather; it can gradually grow on parent plants during storage, and also on seed shoots every year. Yield losses depend on a cultivated variety. The amount of diseased plants reaches 24-44% (disease development 8-39%) in Primorskii Territory and 1-15% in Leningrad Region. In Georgia, the percent of affected plants depends on conditions of the vegetation season (25-57%). In Belarus, direct dependence between the bacteriosis lesion and potential cabbage yield losses has been recorded. Thus, losses reach 5.0% at 5% of the diseased plants, 9.9% at 10%, 14.9% at 15%, 19.8% at 20%, 24.8% at 25% and 29.8% at 30% of the diseased plants, accordingly. Control measures include a complex of various agronomical actions, which should be directed towards the cultivation of healthy plants. These are maintenance of crop rotation, selection of resistant varieties, correct entering of mineral fertilizers (with prevalence of potash), enough distance between nursery plantings and industrial ones, pesticide treatment of plants during vegetation, careful destruction of the vegetation residues. Control of pests, which are carriers of bacteria, and of weed plants, which reserves of bacterial infection, is important. It is necessary to use highly sensitive serological methods for early diagnostics of seed infection by the pathogen.

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