Primary interest lies in identifying gene targets for accurate and robust diagnostic development in plant pathogenic bacteria that threaten Australian and USA agricultural and horticultural industries.
One pathogen under study is Pseudomonas syringae pv. actinidiae (Psa), the causal agent of bacterial canker of kiwifruit. Psa has had devastating effects on the kiwifruit industries in several countries after the 2008 outbreak. Symptoms of infection include late winter die-back of young canes, rust red exudates from canes and trunks, and the presence of necrotic lesions with chlorotic halos on leaves during the spring.
The challenge is to develop diagnostic protocols that discriminate among Psa strains and that distinguish Psa from other pseudomonads, including the non-pathogenic populations commonly found on plant surfaces.
Next generation sequencing techniques, genomic comparison tools, isothermal amplifications and polymerase chain reactions are being used to detect targets of interest.
Another area of interest is understanding the differences among plant pathogenic and non-pathogenic bacteria using P. syringae as a model. Have nonpathogenic bacteria lost genetic determinants during evolution? Have pathogenic bacteria gained them? Is the full diversity of Pseudomonas better conceptualized as a continuum rather than as discrete taxonomic entities?
Pseudomonas syringae resources: