Seed treatment with prodigiosin controls damping-off of cucumber caused by Pythium ultimum


Authors: USDA-Agricultural Research Service, Agios Pharmaceuticals, TIC Gums, United States; Universidade Federal de Lavras, Brazil


Ethanol extract of cell mass of Serratia marcescens strain N4-5, when applied as a treatment to cucumber seed, has been shown to provide control of the oomycete soil-borne plant pathogen Pythium ultimum equivalent to that provided by a seed-treatment chemical pesticide in some soils. Two dominant compounds in this extract, prodigiosin and the serratamolide serrawetin W1, were identified based on mass and collision induced dissociation mass fragmentation spectra. An additional four compounds with M+H+ masses (487, 541, 543, and 571) consistent with serratamolides reported in the literature were also detected. Several other compounds with M+H+ masses of 488, 536, 684, 834, 906, and 908 m/z were detected in this ethanol extract inconsistently over multiple liquid chromatography coupled with tandem mass spectrometry (LC/MS–MS) runs. A purified preparation of prodigiosin provided control of damping-off of cucumber caused by P. ultimum when applied as a seed treatment while ethanol extract of cell mass of strain Tn246, a transposon-mutant-derivative of strain N4-5, did not. Strain Tn246 contained a mini-Tn5 Km insertion in a prodigiosin biosynthetic gene and was deficient in production of prodigiosin. All other compounds detected in N4-5 extract were detected in the Tn246 extract. This is the first report demonstrating that prodigiosin can control a plant disease. Other compounds in ethanol extract of strain N4-5 may contribute to disease control.

TLC/MS characterization of prodigiosin was performed using the Advion Interchim Scientific® Plate Express Automated TLC Plate Reader and expression® Compact Mass Spectrometer (CMS).