The Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS), Plant Protection and Quarantine (PPQ) has confirmed detections of Ralstonia solanacearum race 3 biovar 2, on geraniums with wilt symptoms in 27 commercial greenhouses in 13 States (Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Maryland, Michigan, Missouri, North Carolina, New Hampshire, Tennessee, Virginia and Wisconsin). All greenhouses received the infected propagative material from one particular facility located in Kenya. This is a bacterial pathogen that causes wilt in geraniums (Pelargonium), is highly destructive to potatoes, and infects numerous other solanaceous plants (e.g., tomatoes, tobacco, eggplant, and peppers).
PPQ placed over 800 US greenhouses under quarantine, using shipping records and traces forward to identify potentially infested plants. Shipments of regulated plants from the affected greenhouses have been suspended until PPQ ascertains that tests for the presence of the pathogen are negative. Samples are currently being taken from held suspect plants showing wilting symptoms and screened for the presence of Ralstonia solanacearum. Confirmation testing to the race 3 biovar 2 level is being done by the PPQ Center for Plant Health Science and Technology laboratory in Beltsville, Maryland. The Center has recruited additional assistance to assure samples are processed within four days, unless retesting is necessary.
Suspect greenhouses in which wilted geranium plants tested positive by PPQ for R. solanacearum race 3 biovar 2 have not been allowed to move plants until PPQ-approved procedures are used both to destroy plants and disinfect greenhouses. Plants including non-host plants, that are commingled or exposed to contaminated water in shipment or in the greenhouses, may be subject to destruction if there is reason to believe that contamination by R. solanacearum race 3 biovar 2 may have occurred. Over 630 of the over 800 initially held greenhouses remained on hold as of March 7.
APHIS has implemented a prohibition for all geranium nursery stock from Kenya effective February 14. APHIS is making every effort to implement its emergency response to ensure that U.S. potatoes and other solanaceous plants are safeguarded, and to minimize adverse impact on the geranium industry.
For more information about Ralstonia see the following:
Florida Pest Alert