Thermal treatment using microwave irradiation for the phytosanitation of Xylella fastidiosa in pecan graftwood.
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Pecan bacterial leaf scorch caused by Xylella fastidiosa is an emerging disease for the U.S. and international pecan industries and can be transmitted from scion to rootstock via grafting. With the expanse of global transportation and trade networks, phytosanitation is critical for reducing the spread of economically significant pathogens, such as X. fastidiosa. We developed and evaluated thermal treatments using microwave irradiation and microwave absorbers [sterile deionized water (dH2O) and carbon nanotubes (CNTs)] as novel disinfectant methods for remediating X. fastidiosa in pecan scions. Partial submergence of scions in dH2O or CNT dispersions resulted in the transport of microwave absorbers in the xylem tissue via transpiration but did not compromise plant health. The microwave absorbers effectively transferred heat to the scion wood to reach an average temperature range of 55-65C. Microwave radiation exposure for 6 sec (3 sec for two iterations) of CNT- or dH2O-treated scions reduced the frequency of X. fastidiosa-positive in pecan scions without negatively affecting plant viability when compared to the control group (dH2O-treated with no microwave). The efficacy of the new thermal treatments based on microwave irradiation was comparable to the conventional hot-water treatment (HWT) method, in which scions were submerged in 46C water for 30 min. Microwave irradiation can be employed to treat X. fastidiosa-infected scions where the conventional HWT treatment is not feasible. This study is the first report to demonstrate novel thermal treatment methods based on the microwave irradiation and microwave absorbers of dH2O and CNT as an application for the phytosanitation of xylem-inhabiting bacteria in graftwood.