Crop Genebank Knowledge Base

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Bacteria - chickpea

Contributors to this page: ICRISAT, India (RP Thakur, AG Girish, VP Rao); ICARDA, Syria (Siham Asaad, Abdulrahman Moukahal).

Bacterial blight

Scientific name

Pseudomonas syringae van Hall pv. pisi (Sackett) Young et al.

Other scientific names

Pseudomonas pisi.




Severe infections (reaching 100% disease incidence) and substantial crop losses have been reported from winter sown peas in southern France, New Zealand and South Africa (Boelema 1972; Taylor 1972). The disease as such, however, does not appear to be of great economic importance in other parts of the world.


Symptoms appear on all aerial plant parts, including stipules, leaflets, petioles, stems, tendrils, flower buds and pods, but those on stems and stipules are most characteristic. Symptoms usually appear on the stem near the soil as water soaked and later olive-green to purple-brown spots. The infection extends upwards to the stipules and leaflets, where veins turn brown to black and adjacent tissues become diseased in a fan-like pattern. The interveinal tissues may become water soaked and then yellowish to brown, finally drying out and becoming papery. Lesions on leaflets and pods begin as small, round, oval or irregular dark-green water soaked spots at first, and later enlarge and coalesce but are sharply defined by the veins. Cream-coloured bacterial ooze may be found on the lesion surface that, upon drying, gives a glossy appearance. The leaflets later become yellowish and the spots brown and papery. Ripening pods become twisted and dry, lesions on them sunken and greenish-brown. Lesions on the pod may be limited to a narrow band on the sutures. Infected seeds show a water soaked spot near the hilum and/or are shrivelled, with a brown-yellow discoloration. Infection often takes place on sepals, spreading to the flowers, and flower buds may be killed before they open.


Peas, including Pisum sativum var. arvense, are the principal host. Natural infection has also been found on Lablab purpureus (poor man’s bean), Lathyrus latifolius (everlasting pea), L. odoratus (garden sweet pea) and Vicia benghalensis (purple vetch).

Geographic distribution

Bacterial blight is distributed worldwide.

Biology and transmission

Pseudomonas syringae pv. pisi is a motile, gram-negative, non-spore-forming rod, 0.7 ´ 2-3 µm, with one to five polar flagella. Disease develops more readily on soils with high moisture content. Infections can occur through contact of diseased and healthy foliage and insects may have a role in transmission. The bacterium can survive on or within seeds for at least ten months (Skoric 1927) and for several months on diseased plant debris in the field (Harris 1964).

Detection/indexing methods in place at the CGIAR Centres

  • At ICRISAT - Detection of the pathogen in seeds is usually performed by soaking seeds in buffer at low temperature (4°C) for 4-16 hrs and subsequent isolation from the (centrifuged) soaking solution. For isolation from diseased tissues and seeds, King's B medium can be used, with supplement of boric acid, cephalexin and cycloheximide, if necessary (Mohan and Schaad 1987).
  • At ICARDA - None present.


No treatment methods in place.   

Procedure in place at the CGIAR Centres in case of positive test

  • At ICRISAT - Incineration of the infected crop and rejection of the seed sample.
  • At ICARDA - No procedures in place.

EPPO protocols

EPPO recommends (OEPP/EPPO 1990) that pea seeds should come from a field or area free from P. syringae pv. pisi, or else that the seed crop should have been inspected. However, seed testing techniques are now available (see Detection and indexing methods) that may prove useful. 

References and further reading

Boelema BH. 1972. Bacterial blight (Pseudomonas pisi Sackett) of peas in South Africa, with special reference to frost as a predisposing factor. Mededelingen Landbouwhogeschool Wageningen 72:1-87.

Harris DE. 1964. Bacterial blight of peas. Journal of Agriculture, Victoria Department of Agriculture 62:276-280.

Mohan SK, Schaad NW. 1987. Semiselective agar medium for isolating Pseudomonas syringae pv. syringae and pv. phaseolicola from bean seed. Phytopathology 77: 1390-1395.

OEPP/EPPO. 1990. Specific quarantine requirements. EPPO Technical Documents No. 1008.

Skoric V. 1927. Bacterial blight of peas; overwintering, dissemination and pathological histology. Phytopathology 17:611-628.

Taylor JD. 1972. Races of Pseudomonas pisi and sources of resistance in field and garden peas. New Zealand Journal of Agricultural Research 15:441- 447.


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