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Sensitive, Secure Detection of Race 3 Biovar 2 and Native U.S. Strains of Ralstonia solanacearum

Tran, Tuan Minh, Jacobs, Jonathan M., Huerta, Alejandra, Milling, Annett, Weibel, Jordan, Allen, Caitilyn
Plant disease 2016 v.100 no.3 pp. 630-639
Ralstonia solanacearum, biosecurity, enrichment culture, hosts, pathogens, polymerase chain reaction, potatoes, quarantine, tissues, tomatoes, Southeastern United States
Detecting and correctly identifying Ralstonia solanacearum in infected plants is important because the race 3 biovar 2 (R3bv2) subgroup is a high-concern quarantine pathogen, while the related sequevar 7 group is endemic to the southeastern United States. Preventing accidental import of R3bv2 in geranium cuttings demands sensitive detection methods that are suitable for large-volume use both onshore and offshore. However, detection is complicated by frequent asymptomatic latent infections, uneven pathogen distribution within infected plants, pathogen viable-but-not-culturable state, and biosecurity laws that restrict transport of R3bv2 strains for diagnosis. There are many methods to detect R3bv2 strains but their relative utility is unknown, particularly in the realistic context of infected plant hosts. Therefore, we compared the sensitivity, cost, and technical complexity of several assays to detect and distinguish R3bv2 and sequevar 7 strains of R. solanacearum in geranium, tomato, and potato tissue in the laboratory and in naturally infected tomato plants from the field. The sensitivity of polymerase chain reaction (PCR)-based methods in infected geranium tissues was significantly improved by use of Kapa3G Plant, a polymerase with enhanced performance in the presence of plant inhibitors. R3bv2 cells were killed within 60 min of application to Whatman FTA(R) nucleic acid-binding cards, suggesting that samples on FTA cards can be safely transported for diagnosis. Overall, culture enrichment followed by dilution plating was the most sensitive detection method (10¹ CFU/ml) but it was also most laborious. Conducting PCR from FTA cards was faster, easier, and sensitive enough to detect approximately 10⁴ CFU/ml, levels similar to those found in latently infected geranium plants.