Xanthomonas arboricola pv. juglandis (hereafter X. juglandis) is the etiological agent of walnut blight, the most important bacterial disease affecting walnut production worldwide. Currently, the disease is treated mainly with copper-derived compounds (e.g., CuSO4) despite the evidence of genetic resistance in these strains. Regarding the effectiveness and sustainability, the use of a bacteriophage appears to be a biocontrol alternative to reduce X. juglandis load and symptomatology of walnut blight. Here, the phages f 20-Xaj, f 29-Xaj, and f 30-Xaj were characterized, and their effectiveness in walnut orchards against walnut blight was determined. These bacteriophages showed a specific lytic infection in X. juglandis strains isolated from Chile and France. Phylogenetic analysis of the complete genome of f 20-Xaj and f 30-Xaj indicates that these phages belong to the Pradovirus genus. In the field, the cocktail of these bacteriophages showed similar effectivity to CuSO4 in the reduction of incidence and severity in walnut tissue. Moreover, the bacterial load of X. juglandis was significantly reduced in the presence of bacteriophages in contrast to a CuSO4 treatment. These results show that the use of bacteriophages can be an alternative to combat the symptoms of walnut blight caused by X. juglandis.
- phage therapy
- walnut blight
- Xanthomonas arboricola pv. juglandis