Flooding-Associated Soft Rot of Sweetpotato Storage Roots Caused by Distinct Isolates

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Flooding of sweetpotatoes in the field leads to development of soft rot on the storage roots while they remain submerged or on subsequent harvest and storage. Incidences of flooding after periods of intense rainy weather are on the rise in the southeastern United States, which is home to the majority of sweetpotato production in the nation. In an effort to characterize the causative agent(s) of this devastating disease, here we describe two distinct bacterial strains isolated from soft-rotted sweetpotato storage roots retrieved from an intentionally flooded field. Both of these anaerobic spore-forming isolates were identified as members of the genus based on sequence similarity of multiple housekeeping genes, and both were confirmed to cause soft rot disease on sweetpotato and other vegetable crops. Despite these common features, the isolates were distinguishable by several phenotypic and biochemical properties, and phylogenetic analysis placed them in separate well-supported clades within the genus. Overall, our results demonstrate that multiple plant-pathogenic species can cause soft rot disease on sweetpotato and suggest that a variety of other plant hosts may also be susceptible.

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Plant disease

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