, Volume 107, Issue 4, pp 387-398

Conventional PCR and Real-time Quantitative PCR Detection of Helminthosporium Solani in Soil and on Potato Tubers

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Silver scurf is an economically important blemish disease of potato caused by the fungus Helminthosporium solani. Two sets of PCR primers, Hs1F1/Hs2R1 (outer) and Hs1NF1/Hs2NR1 (nested) were designed to unique sequences of the nuclear ribosomal internal transcribed spacer (ITS1 and ITS2) regions of H. solani. Nested PCR was used to increase the specificity and sensitivity of single round PCR. Each primer set amplified a single product of 447 bp and 371 bp respectively, with DNA from 71 European and North American isolates of H. solani, and the specificity of primers was confirmed by the absence of amplified product with DNA from other fungal and bacterial plant pathogens. A simple and rapid procedure for direct extraction of DNA from soils and potato tubers was modified and developed to yield DNA of a purity and quality suitable for PCR within 3 h. The sensitivity of PCR for the specific detection of H. solani in seeded soils was determined to be 1.5 spores g−1 of soil. H. solani was also detected by PCR in naturally infested soil and from peel and peel extract from infected and apparently healthy tubers. Specific primers and a TaqMan™ fluorogenic probe were designed using the original primer sequences to perform real-time quantitative (TaqMan™) PCR. The same levels of sensitivity for specific detection of H. solani in soil and tubers were obtained during first round mboxTaqMan-based PCR as with conventional nested PCR and gel electrophoresis. This rapid and quantitative PCR assay allows an accurate estimation of tuber and soil contamination by H. solani, thus providing a tool to study the ecology of the organism and to serve as a crucial component for disease risk assessments.