Donna S. Smith,
Julie T. Chapados,
Scott A. Redhead,
C. André Lévesque, and
Solke H. De Boer
First and eighth authors: Canadian Food Inspection Agency, Charlottetown Laboratory, Charlottetown, PE, C1A 5T1, Canada; and second, third, fourth, fifth, sixth, and seventh authors: Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, Central Experimental Farm, Ottawa, ON, K1A 0C6, Canada.
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Accepted for publication 28 October 2013.
Potato wart, caused by the fungal pathogen Synchytrium endobioticum, is a serious disease with the potential to cause significant economic damage. The small subunit (SSU) and internal transcribed spacer (ITS) ribosomal DNA (rDNA) were sequenced for several Synchytrium spp., showing a high rate of variability for both of these markers among the different species and monophyly of the genus within phylum Chytridiomycota. The intergenic nontranscribed spacer (IGS) of rDNA was sequenced for different pathotypes and showed no intraspecific variation within S. endobioticum, similar to the other rDNA markers from this study. To facilitate screening for the pathogen in soil, three TaqMan polymerase chain reaction (PCR) assays were developed from SSU, ITS, and IGS rDNA sequences to detect S. endobioticum sporangia in the chloroform-flotation fraction of sieved soil extracts. In the screening portion of the method, a first TaqMan assay targeting the SSU rDNA was developed with positive results that were further confirmed with amplicon melt analysis. A synthetic reaction control cloned into a plasmid was incorporated into the procedure, facilitating the validation of negative results. The presence of the reaction control did not adversely affect the efficiency of the SSU target amplification. A second TaqMan assay targeting the ITS-1 region was developed as a confirmatory test. There was 100% accordance between the SSU and ITS-1 TaqMan assays. Utilizing these two assays in tandem achieved good specificity for S. endobioticum, generating negative results with the cloned SSU and ITS-1 regions from all 14 other Synchytrium spp. considered. Spike recovery experiments indicated that these assays, targeting the SSU and ITS-1 rDNA regions, developed from a phylogeny dataset of the genus, could reliably detect a single sporangium in the chloroform flotation fraction of a soil extract. Good correlation between microscopic detection of sporangia and PCR results in both positive and negative soil samples was dually demonstrated for both the SSU and ITS-1 assays.
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