The complete genome of the bacterium Erwinia tasmaniensis strain Et1/99 consisting of a 3.9 Mb circular chromosome and five plasmids was sequenced. Strain Et1/99 represents an epiphytic plant bacterium related to Erwinia amylovora and E. pyrifoliae, which are responsible for the important plant diseases fire blight and Asian pear shoot blight, respectively. Strain Et1/99 is a non-pathogenic bacterium and is thought to compete with these and other bacteria when occupying the same habitat during initial colonization. Genome analysis revealed tools for colonization, cellular communication and defence modulation, as well as genes coding for the synthesis of levan and a not detected capsular exopolysaccharide. Strain Et1/99 may secrete indole-3-acetic acid to increase availability of nutrients provided on plant surfaces. These nutrients are subsequently accessed and metabolized. Secretion systems include the hypersensitive response type III pathway present in many pathogens. Differences or missing parts within the virulence-related factors distinguish strain Et1/99 from pathogens such as Pectobacterium atrosepticum and the related Erwinia spp. Strain Et1/99 completely lacks the sorbitol operon, which may also affect its inability to invade fire blight host plants. Erwinia amylovora in contrast depends for virulence on utilization of sorbitol, the dominant carbohydrate in rosaceous plants. The presence of other virulence-associated factors in strain Et1/99 indicates the ancestral genomic background of many plant-associated bacteria.