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Development and Optimization of a Real-Time Detection Assay for Xanthomonas fragariae in Strawberry Crown Tissue with Receiver Operating Characteristic Curve Analysis

March 2008 , Volume 98 , Number  3
Pages  359 - 368

W. W. Turechek, J. S. Hartung, and J. McCallister

First author: U.S. Department of Agriculture-Agricultural Research Service (USDA-ARS), U.S. Horticultural Research Laboratory, Fort Pierce, FL 34945; and second and third authors: USDA-ARS Fruit Laboratory, Beltsville, MD 20705.

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Accepted for publication 6 November 2007.

Angular leaf spot of strawberry is caused by the bacterium Xanthomonas fragariae. The disease is transmitted primarily through systemically infected nursery stock. This creates problems for nurseries wishing to export plants to Europe because of quarantine restrictions. Currently, field inspections for symptoms are used to certify plants free of X. fragariae, but visual inspection is not useful for detecting plants infected systemically. To detect systemic infections, polymerase chain reaction (PCR) is the desired tool because of its sensitivity, specificity, and ease of use. In this study, we developed three sets of real-time PCR primers and probes and determined optimal reaction conditions for use of these primers for the detection of the bacterium X. fragariae in strawberry crown tissue. Real time detection proved to be both more sensitive and specific than standard PCR. Moreover, the detection of X. fragariae in crown tissue extract was possible with real-time PCR but not with standard PCR which is a significant improvement over standard PCR. The information on sensitivity and specificity of the primer sets was used to evaluate the performance of these primers with receiver operating characteristic (ROC) curve analysis under different tolerances. The results of this analysis can be used to provide guidance on threshold selection to manage disease below unacceptable levels. The results of this research may be useful to regulators and inspectors who must certify that plants meet European and Mediterranean Plant Protection Organization standards.

Additional keywords:black cap, Mann-Whitney U-statistic.

The American Phytopathological Society, 2008