ARS-USDA Foreign Disease-Weed Science Research Unit, Frederick, MD 21702
Perkin Elmer, Foster City, CA
Ring rot of potato, caused by Clavibacter michiganensis subsp. sepedonicus, is one of the most regulated diseases of potatoes world wide. The organism is often difficult to detect in symptomless tubers because of low populations and slow competitive growth on available media. Polymerase chain reaction (PCR) primers and a fluorescent probe for use in the Perkin Elmer 7700 automated real time PCR detection system (TaqMan) were designed from a C. michiganensis subsp. sepedonicus-specific genomic DNA fragment for development of a BIO-PCR assay for C. michiganensis subsp. sepedonicus in potato tubers. Results of screening the primers with strains of C. michiganensis subsp. sepedonicus and other bacteria showed the primers to be specific. A total of 30 naturally infected ring rot suspect tubers were sampled by the core extract, shaker incubation procedure and assayed by (i) plating aliquots onto agar media, (ii) classical PCR, and (iii) BIO-PCR. In all, 4 tubers were positive by agar plating and pathogenicity tests, 8 by classical TaqMan PCR, and 26 by TaqMan BIO-PCR. We conclude that BIO-PCR combined with the TaqMan automated closed detection system is a rapid, reliable method of assaying large numbers of potato tuber extracts for C. michiganensis subsp. sepedonicus. Furthermore, for a large central laboratory running large numbers of PCR assays, the high-throughput TaqMan system can reduce costs per sample over the more labor-intensive classical PCR.