Bacterial soft rot of bell pepper (Capsicum annuum L.), caused by Erwinia spp., is a destructive postharvest market disease of this crop. Control is presently limited to chemical treatments. Methods of inoculating pepper fruit were evaluated to develop a reliable technique for soft rot resistance screening. Erwinia carotovora subsp. atroseptica (Eca) was isolated from partially decayed field grown pepper fruit at Beltsville, MD. Fruit were inoculated with suspensions of Eca via: (a) abrasion with Carborundum, (b) hypodermic puncture, or (c) non-wounded tissue. Inoculated fruit were held under high humidity at 21-23C for two to three days prior to scoring. Degree of soft rot decay was determined via fruit weight loss from two replicates of the experiment over the course of the growing season. Significant differences were not evident among varieties or experiment dates for weight loss due to tissue decay. Hypodermic puncture inoculation was superior to other methods for inducing fruit rot.
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