Bacterial wilt threatens cucurbit crop production in the Midwestern and Northeastern United States. The pathogen, Erwinia tracheiphila, is a xylem-limited bacterium that affects most commercially important cucurbit species, including muskmelon, cucumber, and squash. Bacterial wilt is transmitted and overwintered by striped and spotted cucumber beetles. Since there are few commercially available resistant cultivars, disease management usually relies on use of insecticides to suppress vector populations. Although bacterial wilt was initially described more than 100 years ago, our knowledge of disease ecology and epidemiology advanced slowly for most of the 20th century. However, a recent wave of research has begun to fill in missing pieces of the bacterial wilt puzzle. This article-the first review of research toward understanding the cucurbit bacterial wilt pathosystem-recounts early findings and updates our understanding of the disease cycle, including pathogen and vector biology. We also highlight research areas that could lead to more efficient and ecologically based management of bacterial wilt.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Agronomy and Crop Science
- Plant Science