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A Nested-Polymerase Chain Reaction Protocol for Detection and Population Biology Studies of Peronospora arborescens, the Downy Mildew Pathogen of Opium Poppy, Using Herbarium Specimens and Asymptomatic, Fresh Plant Tissues

January 2009 , Volume 99 , Number  1
Pages  73 - 81

Miguel Montes-Borrego, Francisco J. Muñoz Ledesma, Rafael M. Jiménez-Díaz, and Blanca B. Landa

First and third authors: Institute of Sustainable Agriculture (IAS), CSIC, P.O. Box 4084, 14080 Córdoba, Spain and College of Agriculture and Forestry (ETSIAM), University of Córdoba (UCO), Edificio C-4 ‘Celestino Mutis’, Campus de Rabanales, Ctra. Madrid-Cádiz, km 396, 14071 Córdoba, Spain; second author: ALCALIBER S. A., Ctra. Carmona-El Viso del Alcor, km 1.8, Carmona (Sevilla), Spain; and fourth author: IAS-CSIC, P.O. Box 4084, 14080 Córdoba, Spain.

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Accepted for publication 25 September 2008.

A sensitive nested-polymerase chain reaction (PCR) protocol was developed using either of two primer pairs that improves the in planta detection of Peronospora arborescens DNA. The new protocol represented an increase in sensitivity of 100- to 1,000-fold of detection of the oomycete in opium poppy tissue compared with the detection limit of single PCR using the same primer pairs. The new protocol allowed amplification of 5 to 0.5 fg of Peronospora arborescens DNA mixed with Papaver somniferum DNA. The protocol proved useful for amplifying Peronospora arborescens DNA from 96-year-old herbarium specimens of Papaver spp. and to demonstrate that asymptomatic, systemic infections by Peronospora arborescens can occur in wild Papaver spp. as well as in cultivated opium poppy. Also, the increase in sensitivity of the protocol made possible the detection of seedborne Peronospora arborescens in commercial opium poppy seed stocks in Spain with a high frequency, which poses a threat for pathogen spread. Direct sequencing of purified amplicons allowed alignment of a Peronospora arborescens internal transcribed spacer (ITS) ribosomal DNA (rDNA) sequence up to 730-bp long when combining the sequences obtained with the two primer sets. Maximum parsimony analysis of amplified Peronospora arborescens ITS rDNA sequences from specimens of Papaver dubium, P. hybridum, P. rhoeas, and P. somniferum from different countries indicated for the first time that a degree of host specificity may exist within populations of Peronospora arborescens. The reported protocol will be useful for epidemiological and biogeographical studies of downy mildew diseases as well as to unravel misclassification of Peronospora arborescens and Peronospora cristata, the reported causal agents of the opium poppy downy mildew disease.

Additional keywords:ancient DNA, biogeography, seed detection.

© 2009 The American Phytopathological Society