, Volume 136, Issue 3, pp 433-441
Date: 30 Jan 2013

A sensitive real-time PCR assay for the detection of the two Melampsora medusae formae speciales on infected poplar leaves

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Melampsora medusae is a quarantine fungus in the European Union (EU) that causes a damaging leaf rust disease on poplars. Two formae speciales of the pathogen can be distinguished, M. medusae f. sp. deltoidae and M. medusae f. sp. tremuloidae, but the EU plant health directive 2000/29/EC currently in force does not make the distinction between them. EU countries must have the ability to detect and identify rapidly the introduction of these quarantine fungi and to conduct extensive surveys in case of outbreaks. Efficient detection tools are thus needed. In this study, a sensitive real-time PCR assay was developed to detect the presence of M. medusae in poplar leaf samples. A unique primer/hydrolysis probe combination targeting both formae speciales was designed using species-specific polymorphisms observed within the internal transcribed spacer region. An additional primer/hydrolysis probe combination was designed from a region of the 28S rDNA that is highly conserved in the genus Melampsora and used in a separate real-time PCR assay in order to check the quality of the DNA extracted from Melampsora urediniospores. The test developed demonstrated a high sensitivity since it enables the reproducible detection of two M. medusae urediniospore in a mixture of 2 mg of urediniospores (ca 800 000 urediniospores) of other Melampsora species. This new real-time PCR tool should be useful for laboratories in charge of official analyses since it has many advantages over the techniques currently used to monitor this quarantine pathogen in Europe.