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Water soaking of leaves in relation to development of the wildfire disease of tobacco



Water soaking of leaves in relation to development of the wildfire disease of tobacco



Jour Aqric Res 52(4): 239-269



Artificial inoculations with Bacterium tabacum have previously produced only small lesions surrounded by a halo. In the field, destructive wildfire epidemics are characterized by large, quick-forming lesions, with little or no halo. These have been confused with certain supposedly non-parasitic spots and consequently studies were undertaken to determine the conditions necessary for the development of epidemic wildfire. The essential factor was found to be leaf water soaking which occurs extensively only during the most severe rain and wind storms. Without water soaking about 1 wk. was required for the full development of small halo lesions; with water soaking, large lesions were produced in 48 hrs. Water soaking facilitated spread of the bacteria through affected tissues, and persistence of the areas for 24 hrs. or more following inoculation was required for maximum disease development. Low topping, and high N or low K fertilization, were found to favor disease development by increasing susceptibility of the leaves to water soaking. Similarly, on the same plant, ease of water soaking and severity of disease damage was greater in injured leaves, in leaves turned up so as to expose the lower surface, and in the basal and relatively mature leaves. It is concluded that the types of tobacco grown in the U. S. A. are normally quite resistant to invasion by this organism, that destructive epidemics occur only when the normal resistance is broken down by water soaking, and that cultural and fertilization practices have a marked but indirect effect on host susceptibility.

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