Journal of Undergraduate Research


fire blight treatment, lytic bateriophage, fruit tree disease, Erwinia amyloyora


Life Sciences


Microbiology and Molecular Biology


Fire Blight, caused by the bacteria Erwinia amylovora, is a highly contagious fruit tree disease that is difficult to treat. This disease causes a tree to whither away, as if it had been burned. It is estimated that Fire Blight causes more than a 100 million dollar loss in agricultural goods each year1. In an attempt to treat fire blight and prevent it from spreading, large doses of antibiotics are sprayed on infected trees. These antibiotics do little in the way of helping to treat the trees. In addition, the antibiotic run off from the treatment finds its way into our underground water systems and sewer lines. This in turn may fuel the development of antibiotic resistant bacteria that have recently begun to emerge. Our project is a unique approach to treating Fire Blight. Our hypothesis is that multiple phage exist that can act as effective Fire Blight cures, and, unlike antibiotics, the phage we are pursuing will be organic Erwinia killers that are harmless to humans and are biodegradable. Achieving our goal will bring solutions to both the problem and the previous failed attempts to solve it.

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Microbiology Commons