|Bacterial wilt of a courgette|
| Erwinia amylovora tracheiphila (Smith 1895) Dye 1968
Bacterial wilt is a cucurbit disease caused by the pathogen Erwinia tracheiphila. Cucumber and muskmelon plants are most susceptible, but squash, pumpkins, and gourds may also become infected. Watermelons are immune to the disease.
Bacterial wilt is a disease of the vascular tissue. When a plant is infected, E. tracheiphila multiplies within the xylem, eventually causing mechanical blockage of the water transport system. The first sign of infection, which appears about five days after acquisition, is the wilting of individual leaves on a single stem. However, the disease will soon spread down the runner and then infect the whole plant, causing it to shrivel and die. There is a diagnostic test for bacterial wilt that can be done in the field. The presence of the E. tracheiphila causes the sap to become a milky color and acquire a sticky consistency. If the stem is cut near the crown and the ends are slowly pulled apart, the sap should form a viscous string.
Once a plant is infected, there is no way of stopping the spread of the disease. Some cucurbit cultivars are less susceptible than others, so it may be beneficial to plant these cultivars. However, since wilt-resistant plants have not yet been developed, the most effective way to prevent the disease is to keep beetle populations at a minimum. While various methods of beetle control have been tested, the most effective preventative measure is to keep beetle populations as low as possible through careful field monitoring and insecticide sprays.
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