Development of an engineered bioluminescent reporter phage for detection of bacterial blight of crucifers

David A. Schofield, Carolee T. Bull, Isael Rubio, W. Patrick Wechter, Caroline Westwater, Ian J. Molineux

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

34 Scopus citations


Bacterial blight, caused by the phytopathogen Pseudomonas cannabina pv. alisalensis, is an emerging disease afflicting important members of the Brassicaceae family. The disease is often misdiagnosed as pepper spot, a much less severe disease caused by the related pathogen Pseudomonas syringae pv. maculicola. We have developed a phage-based diagnostic that can both identify and detect the causative agent of bacterial blight and differentiate the two pathogens. A recombinant "light"-tagged reporter phage was generated by integrating bacterial luxAB genes encoding luciferase into the genome of P. cannabina pv. alisalensis phage PBSPCA1. The PBSPCA1::luxAB reporter phage is viable and stable and retains properties similar to those of the wildtype phage. PBSPCA1::luxAB rapidly and sensitively detects P. cannabina pv. alisalensis by conferring a bioluminescent signal response to cultured cells. Detection is dependent on cell viability. Other bacterial pathogens of Brassica species such as P. syringae pv. maculicola, Pseudomonas marginalis, Pectobacterium carotovorum, Xanthomonas campestris pv. campestris, and X. campestris pv. raphani either do not produce a response or produce significantly attenuated signals with the reporter phage. Importantly, the reporter phage detects P. cannabina pv. alisalensis on diseased plant specimens, indicating its potential for disease diagnosis.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3592-3598
Number of pages7
JournalApplied and environmental microbiology
Issue number10
StatePublished - May 2012

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Biotechnology
  • Food Science
  • Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology
  • Ecology


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