Two New Bacterial Pathogens of Peanut, Causing Early Seedling Decline Disease, Identified in the Texas Panhandle. Academic Article uri icon


  • Peanut (Arachis hypogaea L.) is cultivated in tropical and subtropical regions of the world as an important source of oil and protein. Until now, bacterial wilt, caused by Ralstonia solanacearum, was the only known bacterial disease of peanut. In 2020, widespread incidence of poor stand establishment was observed in multiple production fields planted to the Spanish-type peanut varieties in the Texas Panhandle. The observed symptoms included seed rot, pre- and postemergence damping-off, poor seedling vigor, poorly developed root systems with little or no nodule formation, and death. Subsequent diagnosis of symptomatic seedlings recovered two bacterial species identified by BLAST using 676- and 661-bp 16S rRNA fragments as a Ralstonia sp. and a Pantoea sp., respectively. To investigate a possible causative role of these bacteria in the observed peanut disease, the pathogenicity of the two isolates was evaluated under greenhouse conditions relying on Koch's postulates. Cell suspensions of the two bacteria, separately and in combination, were used to inoculate seeds of a Valencia-type peanut variety with no history of the disease and found to be pathogenic on the resultant seedling plants. Symptoms that developed on the inoculated plants were similar to the symptoms initially observed in the field, including seed rot, pre- and postemergence damping-off, poor seedling vigor, and root establishment. The two bacteria were also successfully recovered from inoculated and symptomatic plants, thus satisfying Koch's postulates. Given the early onset of symptom development on affected seeds and seedlings, a seedborne origin of the disease, described here as early-decline bacterial disease of peanut, was investigated in the same batches of peanut seeds that were planted, as well as seeds later harvested in some of the affected fields. Identical bacterial species, on the basis of 16S rRNA identity, were recovered from all of the seeds evaluated indicating that the bacteria are both seedborne and seed-transmissible. Multilocus sequence analysis involving six genes (dnaK, fumC, gyrB, murG, trpB, and tuf) showed that these new strains are most closely related to R. pickettii and Pantoea dispersa, but also phylogenetically distinct. The two bacteria were designated Ralstonia sp. strain B265 and Pantoea sp. strain B270. Losses from the disease in affected fields in 2020 averaged 50% (US$1.12 million) from a total of nine production fields. Findings from this study provide evidence for two new bacterial pathogens of peanuts capable of infecting Spanish and Valencia peanut varieties.

published proceedings

  • Plant Dis

altmetric score

  • 2.85

author list (cited authors)

  • Obasa, K., & Haynes, L.

citation count

  • 3

complete list of authors

  • Obasa, Ken||Haynes, Leonard

publication date

  • February 2022