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Research reports 26.11.2015

Screening of the COGEM lists of non-pathogenic bacteria and fungi for postharvest diseases and plant pathogens

(CGM 2015-06)

In the Netherlands the handling and containment of GMOs is regulated by law. In this law the rules with respect to containment of GMOs are based on the environmental risks these organisms may pose, such as their pathogenicity for humans, animals and plants. If an organism is considered to be non-pathogenic, the lowest containment level applies for their handling and containment.

It was noted, that the COGEM-classification lists with non-pathogenic bacteria and fungi contain organisms that are known to cause postharvest diseases. It raised the question whether or not these particular organisms should be considered pathogenic, and belong to a higher pathogenicity class.

With respect to plant pathogens and postharvest diseases, COGEM commissioned a research project for an update of the lists with non-pathogenic bacteria and fungi. The resulting report starts with definitions to distinguish micro-organisms that are ‘true’ plant pathogens and those that can only cause disease in harvested products. Following is a procedure to make an inventory of possible plant pathogenic bacteria and fungi. Subsequently, the available lists with ‘non-pathogenic’ bacteria and fungi were screened on bacteria and fungi which could be plant pathogens and/or can cause post-harvest diseases.

Based on additional literature search, two fungi were identified which are true pathogens and 13 fungi were identified which possibly are pathogens. A closer look to the 13 fungi is needed to review whether a classification as organisms of pathogenicity class 2 is appropriate.