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Improved Diagnoses and Quantification of Fusarium virguliforme, Causal Agent of Soybean Sudden Death Syndrome

March 2015 , Volume 105 , Number  3
Pages  378 - 387

Jie Wang, Janette L. Jacobs, Jan M. Byrne, and Martin I. Chilvers

Department of Plant, Soil and Microbial Sciences, Michigan State University, East Lansing 48824.

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Accepted for publication 29 September 2014.

Fusarium virguliforme (syn. F. solani f. sp. glycines) is the primary causal pathogen responsible for soybean sudden death syndrome (SDS) in North America. Diagnosis of SDS is difficult because symptoms can be inconsistent or similar to several soybean diseases and disorders. Additionally, quantification and identification of F. virguliforme by traditional dilution plating of soil or ground plant tissue is problematic due to the slow growth rate and plastic morphology of F. virguliforme. Although several real-time quantitative polymerase chain reaction (qPCR)-based assays have been developed for F. virguliforme, the performance of those assays does not allow for accurate quantification of F. virguliforme due to the reclassification of the F. solani species complex. In this study, we developed a TaqMan qPCR assay based on the ribosomal DNA (rDNA) intergenic spacer (IGS) region of F. virguliforme. Specificity of the assay was demonstrated by challenging it with genomic DNA of closely related Fusarium spp. and commonly encountered soilborne fungal pathogens. The detection limit of this assay was determined to be 100 fg of pure F. virguliforme genomic DNA or 100 macroconidia in 0.5 g of soil. An exogenous control was multiplexed with the assay to evaluate for PCR inhibition. Target locus copy number variation had minimal impact, with a range of rDNA copy number from 138 to 233 copies per haploid genome, resulting in a minor variation of up to 0.76 cycle threshold values between strains. The qPCR assay is transferable across platforms, as validated on the primary real-time PCR platform used in the Northcentral region of the National Plant Diagnostic Network. A conventional PCR assay for F. virguliforme detection was also developed and validated for use in situations where qPCR is not possible.

Additional keyword: diagnostic.

© 2015 The American Phytopathological Society