S. R. H.
First, second, and fourth authors: Forest Biosecurity and Protection, Ensis, Private Bag 12, Hobart, Tasmania, Australia, 7001; second and fourth authors: CRC for Sustainable Production Forestry, University of Tasmania, Private Bag 12, Hobart, Tasmania, Australia, 7001; and third author: CSIRO Forestry and Forest Products, Private Bag 5, Wembley, Western Australia, 6913
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Accepted for publication 9 August 2006.
Mycosphaerella leaf disease (MLD) is a serious disease of two of the major eucalypt species grown in temperate regions worldwide, Eucalyptus globulus and E. nitens. More than 30 species of Mycosphaerella have been reported on eucalypts worldwide. Accurate, rapid, and early discrimination of Mycosphaerella spp. causing crown damage to E. globulus and E. nitens will assist the development of sustainable management strategies. This study describes the development, and incorporation in a nested polymerase chain reaction (PCR) approach, of specific primers for the detection and identification of Mycosphaerella spp. commonly reported from leaf lesions of E. globulus and E. nitens in Australia. Primer design was assisted by sequence alignment and phylogenetic analysis of 165 nonredundant sequences from the nuclear ribosomal DNA internal transcribed spacer regions of Mycosphaerella and related species. Phylo-genetic analysis revealed very high sequence similarity for two taxon groups, Mycosphaerella grandis and M. parva, and M. vespa, M. ambi phylla, and M. molleriana, and primers were designed to differentiate each of the two groups. Three other species, M. cryptica, M. nubilosa, and M. tasmaniensis, were distinct and distinguished by species-specific primers. In double-blind trials, the detection test accurately and rapidly identified Mycosphaerella spp. in cultures and discriminated against other pathogens that co-occur in or on Eucalyptus leaves, thereby verifying its reliability. The detection test has an internal amplification control in the first-round PCR with fungal-specific primers to raise confidence in test results, particularly to highlight negative results due to PCR inhibition. When applied to DNA extracted from leaf or stem samples either as multiple or single lesions, it detected and identified up to five Mycosphaerella spp. or taxon groups in both positively identified and in young (putative) MLD lesions. The samples were 20 mm2 or larger in surface area and were collected while undertaking disease rating assessments in an experimental investigation of Eucalyptus plantations and regrowth forest. Using nested PCR detection, Mycosphaerella spp. were positively identified in 2 days, 1 to 5 months earlier than by classical methods, demonstrating the potential application of this detection test to the early discrimination of MLD components in ecological, epidemiological, and genetic investigations.
© 2007 The American Phytopathological Society