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A Rapid, Sensitive, and Cost-Efficient Assay to Estimate Viability of Potato Cyst Nematodes

February 2012 , Volume 102 , Number  2
Pages  140 - 146

Sven van den Elsen, Maaike Ave, Niels Schoenmakers, Renske Landeweert, Jaap Bakker, and Johannes Helder

First, second, fifth, and sixth authors: Laboratory of Nematology, Department of Plant Sciences, Wageningen University, Droevendaalsesteeg 1, 6708 PB Wageningen, The Netherlands; and third and fourth authors: BLGG AgroXpertus, Binnenhaven 5 6709 PD, 6709 PA Wageningen, The Netherlands.

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Accepted for publication 20 September 2011.

Potato cyst nematodes (PCNs) are quarantine organisms, and they belong to the economically most relevant pathogens of potato worldwide. Methodologies to assess the viability of their cysts, which can contain 200 to 500 eggs protected by the hardened cuticle of a dead female, are either time and labor intensive or lack robustness. We present a robust and cost-efficient viability assay based on loss of membrane integrity upon death. This assay uses trehalose, a disaccharide present at a high concentration in the perivitelline fluid of PCN eggs, as a viability marker. Although this assay can detect a single viable egg, the limit of detection for regular field samples was higher, ≈10 viable eggs, due to background signals produced by other soil components. On the basis of 30 nonviable PCN samples from The Netherlands, a threshold level was defined (ΔAtrehalose = 0.0094) below which the presence of >10 viable eggs is highly unlikely (true for ≈99.7% of the observations). This assay can easily be combined with a subsequent DNA-based species determination. The presence of trehalose is a general phenomenon among cyst nematodes; therefore, this method can probably be used for (for example) soybean, sugar beet, and cereal cyst nematodes as well.

© 2012 The American Phytopathological Society