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Clavibacter Michiganensis

Clavibacter michiganensis subsp. michiganensis is the causative agent of bacterial wilt and canker of tomato (Lycopersicon esculentum). Since the first report of the disease in the USA in 1910, bacterial canker has spread throughout the world and causes serious losses to both greenhouse and field tomato (Solanum lycopersicum) crops either by killing the young plants or reducing marketable yields. C. michiganensis is an economically important pathogen that is seed transmitted and one of the most destructive seedborne agents of tomato worldwide.

Clavibacter Michiganensis Background

Clavibacter michiganensis is an aerobic non-sporulating Gram-positive plant pathogenic actinomycete that currently constitutes the only species within the genus Clavibacter. The other former Clavibacter species have been reclassified to genera Leifsonia, Rathayibacter, and Curtobacterium. Clavibacter michiganensis has nine subspecies. Clavibacter michiganensis subsp. michiganensis and Clavibacter michiganensis subsp. sepedonicus are the main diseases that cause substantial economic losses worldwide by damaging tomatoes and potatoes.

When the infection occurs in an early stage of the tomato plant there may be wilting on leaves because Clavibacter michiganensis subsp. michiganensis enter the plant by wounds, including root wounds, and if the bacterium gets to the xylem then a systemic infection is likely that may plug the xylem vessels. The wilting may only show on one side of the leaf and may recover during cooler periods. Wilting may eventually spread to all leaves and these leaves, along with their petioles, may also show distorted, curled growth. Canker lesions, though rare, may develop on the stem. These cankers are necrotic regions where the epidermis is gone. As the bacteria continues its colonization, the canker will deepen and expand. In terms of fruit development, tomatoes may fail to develop altogether or may look marbled because they are ripening unevenly (CABI).

If infection occurs at a late stage of plant development, plants are able to survive and generate fruits. However, the plant may appear stressed rather than wilted and may develop white interveinal areas that will develop into brown necrotic tissue. Often the seeds are infected as well. The causal agent of bacterial wilt and canker of tomato survives in or on seeds for up to 8 months but occasionally also in plant refuse in the soil. The pathogen can be spread long distances because of its association with seeds. As a seed borne pathogen, C. michiganensis is included in the A2 (high risk) list of quarantine pathogens by European and Mediterranean Plant Protection Organization; hence, it is under strict quarantine control and zero tolerance.


  1. CABI. Invasive Species Compendium. Clavibacter michiganensis (bacterial canker of tomato) datasheet.

Clavibacter Michiganensis Antibodies

The Native Antigen Company is pleased to offer a Clavibacter michiganensis sub-species michiganensis polyclonal antibody which is highly specific for this bacterial pathogen.


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