Translocation of a green fluorescent protein (GFP)-tagged Dickeya sp. from stems or from leaves to underground parts of potato plants was studied in greenhouse experiments. Thirty days after stem inoculation, 90% of plants expressed symptoms at the stem base and 95% of plants showed browning of internal stem tissue. The GFP-tagged Dickeya sp. was detected by dilution plating in extracts of the stem interiors (100%), stem bases (90%), roots (80%), stolons (55%), and progeny tubers (24%). In roots, the GFP-tagged Dickeya sp. was found inside and between parenchyma cells whereas, in stems and stolons, the GFP-tagged Dickeya sp. was found in the xylem vessels and protoxylem cells. In progeny tubers, this strain was detected in the stolon end. Thirty days after leaf inoculation, the GFP-tagged Dickeya sp. was detected in extracts of 75% of the leaves, 88% of the petioles, 63% of the axils, and inside 25% of the stems taken 15 cm above the ground level. UV microscopy confirmed the presence of the GFP-tagged Dickeya sp. inside petioles and in the main leaf veins. No blackleg or aerial stem rot and no translocation of the GFP-tagged Dickeya sp. to underground plant parts was observed. The implications for contamination of progeny tubers are discussed.
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