J. S. Pasche and
I. Mallik, Department of Plant Pathology, North Dakota State University, Fargo 58108;
N. R. Anderson, Department of Botany and Plant Pathology, Purdue University, West Lafayette, IN 47907; and
N. C. Gudmestad, Department of Plant Pathology, North Dakota State University
An increase in the stringency for higher quality potato tubers and restrictions on the use of soil fumigants, among other factors, has garnered renewed interest in Verticillium wilt, particularly in russet-skinned cultivars grown for processing. In response to the needs of producers, breeders have increased efforts in the development of potato cultivars with resistance to Verticillium dahliae Kleb., the primary cause of Verticillium wilt. These efforts have resulted in the release of numerous russet-skinned cultivars with purported resistance to the pathogen. However, because efficient and effective methods to screen germplasm for true resistance do not exist, breeders typically have reported resistance based on the development of wilt symptoms alone. The studies reported here demonstrate the efficiency and practicality of a QPCR method for quantification of V. dahliae in potato stem tissue. This method, developed to detect the target trypsin protease gene of the pathogen, was compared with traditional methods for V. dahliae quantification which involve plating stem tissue or sap onto semi-selective media, as well as to a recently developed QPCR assay which amplifies a region of the β-tubulin gene of V. dahliae. The QPCR assay developed in the studies reported here was demonstrated to be sensitive to 0.25 pg of DNA. Use of the duplex real-time PCR assay, utilizing the potato actin gene to normalize quantification, resulted in clearer differentiation of levels of resistance among eight russet-skinned potato cultivars inoculated in greenhouse trials when compared with traditional plating assays. However, relative levels of resistance among cultivars were similar between traditional plating and QPCR methods, resulting in correlation coefficients greater than 0.93. The assay described here also detected the pathogen in inoculated stem tissue at higher frequencies than both traditional plating assays and a previously developed QPCR assay. The QPCR assay developed here demonstrates rapid, efficient, and accurate quantification of V. dahliae, providing a tool amenable for use by breeding programs on large numbers of clones and selections, and will aid researchers evaluating other control strategies for Verticillium wilt.