Main content area

Development of Primers and Probes for Genus and Species Specific Detection of ‘Candidatus Liberibacter Species’ by Real-Time PCR

Ananthakrishnan, G., Choudhary, N., Roy, Avijit, Sengoda, V. G., Postnikova, E., Hartung, J. S., Stone, A. L., Damsteegt, V. D., Schneider, W. L., Munyaneza, J. E., Brlansky, R. H.
Plant disease 2013 v.97 no.9 pp. 1235
Candidatus Liberibacter asiaticus, Citrus, DNA primers, DNA-directed RNA polymerase, carrots, diagnostic techniques, genes, greening disease, insects, plant pathogenic bacteria, potatoes, quantitative polymerase chain reaction, ribosomal RNA, tomatoes, trees
Huanglongbing (HLB), also known as citrus greening, is currently the most devastating disease impacting citrus production. The disease is associated with three different ‘Candidatus Liberibacter species’, ‘Ca. Liberibacter asiaticus’, ‘Ca. Liberibacter americanus’, and ‘Ca. Liberibacter africanus’, which induce similar and overlapping symptoms. When HLB-symptomatic trees are tested, one of the Candidatus Liberibacters is normally detected by conventional or real-time PCR (qPCR). The most widely used assays use primers and probes based on the 16S ribosomal RNA (rRNA) gene. The 16S rRNA-based assays to detect the three species are species-specific and must be performed sequentially. We describe a single assay that detected all species of ‘Ca. Liberibacter’ at the genus level, providing increased convenience. Recent molecular analyses of ‘Ca. Liberibacter species’ and other bacteria suggest that the rpoB gene (encoding the β-subunit of RNA polymerase) provides an alternative target for bacterial identification. We report here the design of a single pair of degenerate primers and a hybridization probe corresponding to the rpoB region and their application for the detection of all three citrus ‘Ca. Liberibacter species’, enabling detection of ‘Ca. Liberibacter’ at the genus level. In addition, species-specific primers and probes based on the rplJ/rplK genes were designed and used for detection at the species level in a multiplexed format. Both the genus- and species-specific assays were validated in both SYBR Green I and TaqMan formats, and with both plant and insect extracts that contained the pathogen. These one-step qPCR diagnostic methods are useful for the detection of all species of Liberibacter infecting citrus. In addition, the degenerate genus-specific primers and probe successfully detected ‘Ca. Liberibacter solanacearum’, a psyllid-transmitted pathogen associated with disease in tomato, carrot, and potato.