Bacterial spot, caused by four Xanthomonas spp., is one of the most damaging diseases of tomato worldwide. Due to limited disease management options, growers rely heavily on copper-based bactericides, which are often ineffective due to the presence of copper-resistant Xanthomonas strains. This study was undertaken to characterize the antibacterial activity of a silver-based nanocomposite, Ag-dsDNA-GO, and its potential as an alternative to copper. Ag-dsDNA-GO at rates as low as 10 µg/ml killed all bacterial cells of copper-tolerant and -sensitive Xanthomonas perforans strains in suspensions containing approximately 103 CFU/ml within 15 min of exposure in vitro, whereas equivalent rates of copper (10, 25, and 50 µg/ml) were unable to significantly reduce populations compared with the untreated control after 24 h of exposure (P=0.05). All copper concentrations killed the copper-sensitive X. perforans strain but required exposure for ≥1 h. Ag-dsDNA-GO also exhibited antibacterial activity against copper-tolerant X. vesicatoria, X. euvesicatoria, and X. gardneri strains. In greenhouse studies, tomato plants treated with Ag-dsDNA-GO at either 75 or 100 µg/ml prior to artificial inoculation significantly reduced disease severity when compared with copper-mancozeb and negative controls (P=0.05). This study highlights the potential of Ag-dsDNA-GO as an alternative to copper in tomato transplant production.
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