The USDA’s Priority Pest List for 2021 includes Ralstonia solanacearum race 3 biovar 2, a bacterium better known as a bacterial wilt. It infects through the roots and is deadly to plants, and is the subject of new grant funding for the University of Guam under the USDA’s Plant Protection Act.
Assisting with the characterization of Guam’s bacterial wilt strains are Mohammad Arif of the Dept. of Plant and Environmental Protection Sciences and graduate student Sujan Paudel. Sujan and Dr. Shefali Dobhal recently developed rapid assay tests that can accurately and quickly distinguish the race 3 biovar 2 strain from RSSC. Also participating is grad student Dario Arizala.
“With these diagnostic assays in hand, we can rapidly detect the bacteria directly from crude host tissue sap. We are now responsible for understanding how bacteria interact inside the host tissues, as well as mapping out endophytic communities associated with ironwood decline through microbiome studies,” says Arif.
“We’ll also study genetic variability among Ralstonia strains found associated with ironwood decline, and how this bacteria has evolved,” he adds. “These objectives will enhance our understanding of this pathogen and disease, toward the development of effective disease-management strategies.”
Read more about the multi-step study.