Skip to main content

Dickeya Pectobacterium

Updated December 1, 2023
Disclaimer: Risk group, biosafety level, and all other precautions noted here are subject to change after a risk assessment by EHS.


Agent Type Risk Group Biosafety Level Animal Housing Biosafety Level
Bacteria RG-1 BSL-1 ABSL-N/A

Agent Characteristics 

Risk Group: RG-1 associated with human disease, rarely serious; preventive or therapeutic interventions often available.

Agent Type: Bacteria 

DescriptionDickeya spp., Pectobacterium spp., that can cause soft rot disease on potato and other plants, are called soft rot Pectobacteriaceae (SRP). They are Gram-negative, rod-shaped, facultatively anaerobic, bacteria that can produce pectinases to digest plant cell walls. SRP have relative wide plant host range. The bacteria are spread by contaminated plant material and can overwinter in New York on alternative hosts. Some species can be found in water bodies and soil.

Host Range: Plants (wide range)

Host Shedding: N/A

Route of Exposure to Humans: N/A

Infectious Dose: N/A

Incubation Period: N/A

Health Hazards

Signs and symptoms of infection may include:

  • none

Immunizations: None available                             Prophylaxis*: None available

*Formal medical advice is obtained during medical consultations with Cornell Health or primary healthcare provider as needed.

Agent Viability 

Survival Outside Host Disinfection
Long term survival on alternative plant host, soil, and water.

1:10 bleach Dilution

70% Ethanol

Inactivation via autoclave

For more guidance on disinfection see: disinfectant selection.

Laboratory Hazards 

None listed

Laboratory Handling Guidelines 

Laboratory Biosafety Level (BSL): BSL-1

Attenuated Strain Alternatives: N/A

Training Lab Engineering Controls Personal Protective Equipment
  • Eye Protection
  • Single gloves
  • Snap-front lab coat with cinch cuffs

Waste Management: Contaminated with other biologicals

Shipping Guidance: Refer to EHS Biological Materials Shipping 

Animal Vivarium Guidance

Animal Housing Biosafety Level (ABSL): N/A

Animal Biosecurity: N/A

Perform Inoculations: N/A

Change Cages: N/A

Exposure and Spill Procedures 

Mucous Membranes: Flush eyes, mouth, or nose for 15 minutes at an eyewash station.See: responding to exposures.

Other Exposures: Wash with soap and water for 15 minutes (open wounds, sores, etc.) or a minimum of 20 seconds for areas with intact skin. See:  responding to exposures.

Small Spills: Notify others working in the lab. Evacuate area and allow 30 minutes for aerosols to settle. Don appropriate PPE. Cover area of the spill with paper towels and apply disinfectant, working from the perimeter toward the center. Allow 30 minutes of contact time before disposal and cleanup of spill materials. See:  spill cleanup

Large Spills: Request assistance from the EHS Spill Team by calling CUPD dispatch. Call 911 from a campus phone or 607-255-1111 from a mobile phone.

Incident Reporting: Immediately report the incident to supervisor and complete the EHS online injury/illness report as soon as possible.

Medical Follow-Up:

  • For students, seek medical attention at Cornell Health or local primary care provider. Call Cornell Health at 607-255-5155 (24-hour phone consultation line) or a local urgent care. 
  • For faculty and staff, seek medical evaluation with a local primary care provider or urgent care. Cornell Health does not see employees for post-exposure care. 
  • Emergencies: Call 911 from a campus phone or 607-255-1111 from a mobile phone. 
Biosafety Level 1 Containment Requirements Summary

Personal Hygiene

  • Remove PPE before leaving the lab - don’t wear PPE in public spaces.
  • Wash hands frequently with soap and water after removing gloves, handling samples, leaving lab, etc.
  • Change gloves frequently while working, and before removing samples from the biosafety cabinet to minimize potential contamination of equipment and surfaces within the lab.

Standard Microbiological Practices


Laboratory personnel are trained in the specific procedures conducted in the laboratory.

A qualified faculty or staff person provides this training and provides sufficient supervision to adequately operate a safe and compliant laboratory.

Work is generally conducted on open bench tops and laminar flow hoods.

Hygiene and Housekeeping

• Keep work areas clean and uncluttered to reduce the chance for cross-contamination and inadvertent exposure to biohazards.

• To avoid ingestion of contaminated material, use a mechanical pipetting device, keep food out of refrigerators and microwaves in work areas, eat, drink, or apply cosmetics only in designated “clean” areas.

• Wear a lab coat and tie back long hair.

• Wash hands after removing gloves, before leaving the lab, and when handling materials known or suspected to be contaminated.

• Perform procedures in a manner that minimizes the creation of aerosols.

• Clean work surfaces and decontaminate with a suitable disinfectant at the end of the day and after any spill of potentially hazardous materials.

• Bench tops, floors, furniture should be impervious to water and easy to clean.

• Remove gloves before leaving the lab, touching the face, keyboards, or control panels, and before using the elevator.

Additional Information:

• Cover rashes or broken skin.

• Remove rings or other jewelry that could puncture gloves.

• Wear the appropriate glove for the hazard. Usually, a type of nitrile glove is recommended for working with biological material, check glove chemical compatibility chart.

• Avoid reusing disposable gloves.

• As required, wear eyewear or face shield approved for UV light (ANSI Z87.1 with UV certification) or other rays that could damage eyes. Contact Cornell EHS for a specific recommendation.

• Wear protective eyewear (marked ANSI Z87.1+ D3) during procedures in which splashes of microorganisms or other hazardous materials is anticipated.