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qPCR Assays for the Detection of Cylindrocladium buxicola in Plant, Water, and Air Samples

August 2013 , Volume 97 , Number  8
Pages  1,082 - 1,090

B. Gehesquière, Plant Sciences Unit–Crop Protection, Institute for Agricultural and Fisheries Research (ILVO), Burg. Van Gansberghelaan 96 bus 2, 9820 Merelbeke, Belgium, and Laboratory of Phytopathology, Department of Crop Protection, Faculty of Bioscience Engineering, Ghent University, Coupure links 653, 9000 Ghent, Belgium; S. D'Haeyer, Plant Sciences Unit–Crop Protection, ILVO; K. T. K. Pham and A. J. Van Kuik, Applied Plant Research, Wageningen UR, Prof. van Slogterenweg 2 P.O. Box 85, 2160 Lisse, The Netherlands; M. Maes, Plant Sciences UnitPlant Sciences Unit–Crop Protection, ILVO; M. Höfte, Laboratory of Phytopathology, Department of Crop Protection, Faculty of Bioscience Engineering, Ghent University; and K. Heungens, Plant Sciences UnitPlant Sciences Unit–Crop Protection, ILVO

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Accepted for publication 14 February 2013.

Cylindrocladium buxicola (syn. C. pseudonaviculatum; teleomorph Calonectria pseudonaviculata) is an important fungal pathogen of Buxus spp. Although widespread in Western Europe, this pathogen has only recently been introduced into North America, where it represents a significant threat to the U.S. and Canadian boxwood industries. Trade of latently infected nursery stock is an important mode of long-distance dissemination and introduction of this pathogen but no methods for detection of latently infected material are available. Also, the pathways for short-distance dispersal of C. buxicola have not been adequately studied. Improved detection methods of this pathogen in air and water samples would benefit future research in this area. We have developed real-time polymerase chain reaction assays for the detection of C. buxicola based on the ribosomal DNA internal transcribed spacer 1 (ITS) and the β-tubulin 2 gene (TUB). Using a TaqMan probe conjugated with a 3′ minor groove binding group (TaqMan MGB probe), the ITS-based assay could reliably detect as little as 10 fg of genomic DNA or 20 copies of cloned target DNA and was approximately 70 times more sensitive than the SYBR Green TUB-based assay. The ITS-based assay provided good but not complete specificity, and is well suited for epidemiological studies. The TUB-based assay, however, proved to be fully specific and can be used for diagnostics. We developed and optimized sample processing and DNA extraction methods for detection of latently present C. buxicola in boxwood plants and quantification of conidia in water and air samples. C. buxicola could be detected in 20 g of plant material, of which only 1 ppm of the tissue was infected, in 10-ml water samples containing as low as 1 conidium/ml, and on Melinex tape pieces representing 12 h of air sampling containing 10 or more conidia. The applicability of the techniques to plant, water, and air samples of practical size was demonstrated.

© 2013 The American Phytopathological Society