Detection and Characterization of the Causal Agent for Bacterial Leaf Streak in Corn

Bacterial leaf streak lesions
Bacterial leaf streak lesions may vary in color and length, but will be between veins and often have wavy margins. (UNL Photos)

Detection and Characterization of the Causal Agent for Bacterial Leaf Streak in Corn

What's in a name? Everything if you're defining and categorizing a new disease threat for corn in the U.S. In an article recently published online in the journal Phytophathology, plant pathologists report their work to identify, characterize, and name the causal agent for the highly virulent bacterial leaf streak in the U.S.

Bacterial leaf streak of corn (Zea mays) recently reached epidemic levels in three corn-growing states, including Nebraska, and has been detected in another six states in the central United States. Xanthomonas vasicola was identified as the causal agent of this disease.

The researchers write: "In 2014, symptoms of bacterial leaf streak disease were first observed on corn in Nebraska and by 2016, the disease was reported in Colorado, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Oklahoma, South Dakota and Texas (Korus et al. 2017). Given similarity of symptoms to those caused by other corn pathogens, it is not known how long the disease has been present in the USA. Bacterial leaf streak was first described in 1949 on corn in South Africa (Dyer 1949), but prior to 2017 it had not been documented in the USA (Korus et al. 2017)."

The authors also note "In addition to resolving nomenclature, reliable and robust tools for accurate and rapid identification of the corn bacterial leaf streak pathogen were needed to confirm presence of the pathogen, monitor its spread, and develop management practices."

View the full article, Detection and characterization of Xanthomonas vasicola pv. vasculorum (Cobb 1894) comb. nov. causing bacterial leaf streak of corn in the United States, on the Phytophathology website.

The authors are Jillian Lang, Colorado State University; Elysa DuCharme, CSU; Jorge Ibarra Caballero, CSU, Emily Luna, CSU, Terra Hartman, UNL, Mary Ortiz-Castro, CSU, Kevin Korus, University of Florida, formerly UNL; John Roscoe, USDA-APHIS, Beltsville; Tamra Jackson, UNL; Kirk Broders, CSU; and Jan Leach, CSU.

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A field of corn.