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Mathews L. Paret, Asoka S. de Silva, Richard A. Criley and Anne M. Alvarez

Fourteen species of ginger belonging to Zingiberaceae and Costaceae were evaluated for susceptibility to the bacterial wilt pathogen Ralstonia solanacearum (Rs) race 4 (ginger strains) by several methods of inoculation, including tests to simulate natural infection. Twelve of 14 species tested were highly susceptible to all strains of Rs race 4 upon stem inoculation, and susceptible plants wilted within 21 days. In contrast to previous reports that Rs strains from an invasive alien species, kahili ginger (Hedychium gardenarium), are nonpathogenic on ornamental gingers, the kahili ginger strain wilted both ornamental and edible ginger (Zingiber officinale) species within 21 days. Pour inoculation to the base of 11 plant species to simulate natural infection confirmed the ability of Rs to invade all the tested species without root wounds. Shampoo ginger (Zingiber zerumbet) was the most susceptible (wilted in 26 days) whereas pink ginger (Alpinia purpurata) and red ginger (A. purpurata) were the least susceptible and wilted in 71 and 76 days respectively. Pathogen survival in potting medium was evaluated by enumerating viable cells in effluent water from drenched pots with and without infected edible ginger after stem or rhizome inoculation. Ralstonia solanacearum survived in plant-free potting medium for 120 days and for 150 to 180 days in potting medium with infected edible ginger. The ability of Rs race 4 to infect many ginger species without wounding and to survive for long periods indicates that high risks will be incurred if the kahili ginger strain is inadvertently introduced from the forest reserves into ginger production areas.