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A Species-Specific Polymerase Chain Reaction Assay for Rapid Detection of Phytophthora nicotianae in Irrigation Water

July 2003 , Volume 93 , Number  7
Pages  822 - 831

Ping Kong , Chuanxue Hong , Steven N. Jeffers , and Patricia A. Richardson

First, second, and fourth authors: Department of Plant Pathology, Physiology, and Weed Science, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, Hampton Roads Agricultural Research and Extension Center, Virginia Beach 23455; and third author: Department of Plant Pathology and Physiology, Clemson University, Clemson, SC 29634

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Accepted for publication 18 February 2003.

Phytophthora nicotianae is a common and destructive pathogen of numerous ornamental, agronomic, and horticultural crops such as tobacco, tomato, and citrus. We have developed a species-specific polymerase chain reaction (PCR) assay for rapid and accurate detection of this pathogen in irrigation water, a primary source of inoculum and an efficient means of propagule dissemination. This PCR assay consists of a pair of species-specific primers (PN), customization of a commercial soil DNA extraction kit for purification of DNA from propagules in irrigation water, and efficient PCR protocols for primer tests and sample detection. The PN primers proved adequately specific for P. nicotianae in evaluations with 131 isolates of P. nicotianae, 102 isolates from 15 other species of Phytophthora, and 64 isolates from a variety of other oomycetes, true fungi, and bacteria. These isolates originated from a wide range of host plants, three substrates (plant tissue, soil, and irrigation water), and numerous geographic locations. The detection sensitivity is between 80 and 800 fg DNA/μl. The assay detected the pathogen in naturally infested water samples from Virginia and South Carolina nurseries more rapidly and accurately than standard isolation methods. Use of this PCR assay can assist growers in making timely disease management decisions with confidence.

Additional keywords: epidemiology, identification, population biology.

© 2003 The American Phytopathological Society