Guillaume J. Bilodeau,
Frank N. Martin,
Michael D. Coffey, and
Cheryl L. Blomquist
First and second authors: United States Department of Agriculture–Agricultural Research Service, Salinas, CA; third author: Department of Plant Pathology and Microbiology, University of California–Riverside; and fourth author: California Department of Food and Agriculture, Plant Pest Diagnostics Branch, Sacramento.
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Accepted for publication 28 January 2014.
A molecular diagnostic assay for Phytophthora spp. that is specific, sensitive, has both genus- and species-specific detection capabilities multiplexed, and can be used to systematically develop markers for detection of a wide range of species would facilitate research and regulatory efforts. To address this need, a marker system was developed based on the high copy sequences of the mitochondrial DNA utilizing gene orders that were highly conserved in the genus Phytophthora but different in the related genus Pythium and plants to reduce the importance of highly controlled annealing temperatures for specificity. An amplification primer pair designed from conserved regions of the atp9 and nad9 genes produced an amplicon of ≈340 bp specific for the Phytophthora spp. tested. The TaqMan probe for the genus-specific Phytophthora test was designed from a conserved portion of the atp9 gene whereas variable intergenic spacer sequences were used for designing the species-specific TaqMan probes. Specific probes were developed for 13 species and the P. citricola species complex. In silico analysis suggests that species-specific probes could be developed for at least 70 additional described and provisional species; the use of locked nucleic acids in TaqMan probes should expand this list. A second locus spanning three tRNAs (trnM-trnP-trnM) was also evaluated for genus-specific detection capabilities. At 206 bp, it was not as useful for systematic development of a broad range of species-specific probes as the larger 340-bp amplicon. All markers were validated against a test panel that included 87 Phytophthora spp., 14 provisional Phytophthora spp., 29 Pythium spp., 1 Phytopythium sp., and 39 plant species. Species-specific probes were validated further against a range of geographically diverse isolates to ensure uniformity of detection at an intraspecific level, as well as with other species having high levels of sequence similarity to ensure specificity. Both diagnostic assays were also validated against 130 environmental samples from a range of hosts. The only limitation observed was that primers for the 340 bp atp9-nad9 locus did not amplify Phytophthora bisheria or P. frigida. The identification of species present in a sample can be determined without the need for culturing by sequencing the genus-specific amplicon and comparing that with a reference sequence database of known Phytophthora spp.
This article is in the public domain and not copyrightable. It may be freely reprinted with customary crediting of the source. The American Phytopathological Society, 2014.