Isolation and Characterization of Bacteria Associated with Onion and First Report of Onion Diseases Caused by Five Bacterial Pathogens in Texas, U.S.A. Academic Article uri icon


  • Bacterial diseases pose a severe challenge to growers and cause significant loss to the billion-dollar onion industry in the United States. Texas is the sixth largest onion producing state, yet the bacterial communities associated with short-day onion crops grown in Texas have not been studied. This study was conducted to identify, characterize, and understand the diversity of bacteria associated with onion production in Texas. In 2020, 190 foliar and 210 bulb samples were collected from onion crops in the Rio Grande Valley and Winter Garden regions of Texas. Sequencing of the 16s rRNA gene was used to identify each bacterial strains to a genus. The pathogenicity to onion of each bacterial strain was tested using three assays: a red onion scale assay, a yellow onion bulb assay, and a foliar assay. Whole genome sequencing was done to identify the onion-pathogenic strains to species. Collectively, isolates of 24 genera belonging to three phyla were detected, including 19 genera from foliar samples and nine genera from bulb samples. Isolates in the Phylum Proteobacteria, including 15 genera of Gram-negative bacteria, were the most abundant of the taxa, comprising 90.0% of the strains isolated. The diversity of foliar isolates was evenly distributed between Gram-positive and Gram-negative bacteria, while Gram-negative bacteria dominated the isolates from bulb samples. In total, 83.9% of the bacterial isolates were not pathogenic on onion, with only isolates of Pantoea, Pseudomonas, Burkholderia, Erwinia, Enterobacter, and Curtobacterium proving pathogenic. Strains of Burkholderia gladioli, Pseudomonas alliivorans, Pantoea agglomerans, P. ananatis, and P. allii are the first documented cases of these pathogens of onion in Texas. Identifying and characterizing the nature of onion microflora, including pathogens of onion, is vital to developing rapid disease detection techniques via pathogenomics and minimizing losses through the application of effective disease management measures.

published proceedings

  • Plant Dis

altmetric score

  • 2

author list (cited authors)

  • Khanal, M., Bhatta, B. P., & Malla, S.

citation count

  • 0

publication date

  • June 2023