A Conserved Motif in the 5.8S Ribosomal RNA (rRNA) Gene is a Useful Diagnostic Marker for Plant Internal Transcribed Spacer (ITS) Sequences
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The nuclear ribosomal DNA (rDNA) internal transcribed spacer (ITS) region has become an important nuclear locus for molecular systematic investigations of angiosperms at the intergenic and interspecific levels. Universal PCR primers are positioned on the conserved rRNA genes (18S, 5.8S, 26S) to amplify the entire ITS spacer region. Recent reports of fungal and algal contaminants, first described as plant ITS sequences, stress the need for diagnostic markers specific for the angiosperm ITS region. This report describes a conserved 14 base pair (bp) motif in the 5.8S rRNA gene that can be used to differentiate between flowering plants, bryophytes, and several orders of algae and fungi, including common plant pathogenic and non-pathogenic fungi. A variant of the motif (found in fungi and algae) contains a convenient EcoRI restriction site that has several applications for eliminating problematic contaminants from plant ITS preparations.
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