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The bacterial blight of pomegranate (Xanthomonas axonopodis pv. punicae) has become a serious problem in major pomegranate growing areas of India leading to complete destruction of the pomegranate orchards causing extensive losses in terms of quantity and quality of fruits produced. Bacteriophages, being specific to bacteria are thought to offer a viable option for controlling plant diseases. Bacteriophages were evaluated in vitro and potted plants against Xanthomonas axonopodis pv. punicae (Xap). Bacteriophages isolated from soil of infected pomegranate orchards at village Dharampur, Solan (HP) produced strong lytic zones through in spot assay in agar plates. Liquid cultures of X. axonopodis treated with bacteriophages individually or in combination showed bacterial lysis thereby killing of bacterial cells. In planta, phage mixture reduced the severity of bacterial blight when treated with formulated phages in skimmed milk simultaneously enhancing plant growth thereby suggesting the potential use of phages against Xap for managing bacterial blight disease of pomegranate.
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The authors are acknowledged to the Directorate of Research University of Horticulture and Forestry Nauni, Solan (H.P.), for conferring the laboratory and pot facilities for accomplishing this study. Authors also greatly thankful to the Central Potato Research Institute, Shimla, Himachal Pradesh (India), for providing a transmission electron microscopic facility to carry out the morphological studies.