Pseudomonas syringae pv. actinidiae (Psa) is the causal agent of a bacterial canker in kiwifruit plants and has caused economic losses worldwide. Currently, the primary strategies to control this pathogen include the use of copper-based compounds and even antibiotics. However, the emergence of isolates of Psa that are resistant to these agrochemicals has raised the need for new alternatives to control this pathogen. Bacteriophages have been proposed as an alternative to control bacterial infections in agriculture, including Psa. Here, we show the isolation and characterization of 13 phages with the potential to control Psa infections in kiwifruit plants. The phages were characterized according to their host range and restriction fragment length polymorphism (RFLP) pattern. Four phages were selected according to their lytic effect on the bacteria and their tolerance to different environmental conditions of pH (4–7), temperature (4–37 °C), and solar radiation exposure (30 and 60 min). The selected phages (CHF1, CHF7, CHF19, and CHF21) were sequenced, revealing a high identity with the podophage of Psa phiPSA2. In vitro assays with kiwifruit leaf samples demonstrated that the mixture of phages reduced the Psa bacterial load within three hours post-application and was able to reduce the damage index in 50% of cases. Similarly, assays with kiwifruit plants maintained in greenhouse conditions showed that these phages were able to reduce the Psa bacterial load in more than 50% of cases and produced a significant decrease in the damage index of treated plants after 30 days. Finally, none of the selected phages were able to infect the other bacteria present in the natural microbiota of kiwifruit plants. These results show that bacteriophages are an attractive alternative to control Psa infections in kiwifruit plants.
- Pseudomonas syringae
- Pseudomonas syringae pv. actinidiae