Molecular Diagnostics in the Mycosphaerella Leaf Spot Disease Complex of Banana and for Radopholus similis


Mycosphaerella leaf spots and nematodes threaten banana cultivation worldwide. The Mycosphaerella disease complex involves three related ascomycetous fungi: Mycosphaerella fijiensis, M. musicola and M. eumusae. The exact distribution of these three species and their disease epidemiology remain unclear, since their symptoms and life cycles are rather similar. Diagnosing these diseases and the respective causal agents is based on the presence of host symptoms and fungal fruiting structures, but is time consuming and not conducive to preventive management. In the present study, we developed rapid and robust species-specific diagnostic tools to detect and quantify M. fijiensis, M. musicola and M. eumusae. Conventional species-specific PCR primers were developed based on the actin gene that detected as little as 100, 1 and 10 pg/µl DNA from, respectively, M. fijiensis, M. musicola and M. eumusae. Furthermore, TaqMan real-time quantitative PCR assays that were developed based on the ß-tubulin gene detected quantities as low as 1 pg/µl DNA of each species from pure cultures and 1.6 pg/µl DNA/mg of M. fijiensis from dry leaf tissue. The efficacy of the tests was validated using naturally infected banana leaves. Similar technology has been used to develop a quantitative PCR assay for the banana burrowing nematode, Radopholus similis, which is currently being validate

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