University of Kentucky, Department of Plant Pathology, S-305 Agricultural Sciences Center, North, Lexington 40546
Peronospora tabacina is an obligately parasitic oomycete that causes blue mold, a devastating disease of tobacco. Genetic studies of this pathogen have been hampered by the lack of molecular markers. We generated a set of molecular markers for P. tabacina by collecting sporangiospores from infected tobacco leaves, extracting spore DNA, and cloning it in a plasmid vector. The resulting clones were then used to probe DNA from a collection of P. tabacina isolates to survey for polymorphisms. Most probes gave unexpected hybridization patterns with signal intensities that varied significantly from one DNA sample to another or between different DNA preparations of the same isolate. These results indicated that certain DNA preparations contained DNA from a source other than P. tabacina, which in turn suggested that some probes might have been derived from contaminating organisms present in the spore suspensions. Therefore, we characterized the inserts of several recombinant plasmids to determine their origins. Sequence analysis revealed that several of the inserts encoded peptides with similarity to bacterial proteins, suggesting that they were derived from bacterial contaminants. Of the remaining clones, five exhibited similarity to retroelements, one resembled eukaryotic helicase genes, and nine had no similarity to sequences in the databases. These were postulated to be true P. tabacina DNA clones. Verification of the origin of each probe was achieved by filtering a spore suspension, extracting DNA from the retentate and filtrate, and probing Southern blots of these DNA samples. These experiments confirmed the probe origins predicted by sequence analysis, resulting in the generation of 20 different restriction fragment length polymorphism probes that are specific for P. tabacina DNA. These probes should enable identification of reliable genetic markers for population studies of the blue mold organism.