Lack of Evidence of Vertical Transmission of 'Candidatus Liberibacter solanacearum' by Carrot Seeds Suggests That Seed is not a Major Transmission Pathway
'Candidatus Liberibacter solanacearum' is a bacterium associated with several vegetative disorders on solanaceous and apiaceous crops. Following the recent detection of the bacterium in carrots in Europe, and particularly carrot plants used for seed production in France, two independent laboratories conducted experiments on the transmission of this pathogen by seed and had discordant results: one study showed no bacterial transmission to plants, and the other showed transmission to carrot seedlings starting from the fourth month of culture. To test the hypothesis that growing conditions affect seed transmission efficiencies, trials were renewed in 2015 on four lots of 500 carrot seeds naturally contaminated with 'Ca. L. solanacearum' and two lots of 100 healthy seeds. The plants were grown for 6 months in an insect-proof NS2 greenhouse. Sets of 108 plants from the contaminated lots and 24 plants from the healthy lots were individually analyzed each month using real-time PCR to detect the bacterium. The detection tests on seeds and plants from healthy lots were always negative. During the 6 months of the trial, no plants from the contaminated seed lots tested positive for the bacterium or showed any infection symptoms. These results indicate that transmission of 'Ca. L. solanacearum' by carrot seed is rare and difficult to reproduce.