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Simultaneous detection and quantification by multiplex qPCR of 'Candidatus Phytoplasma asteris' and 'Candidatus Phytoplasma fraxini' in a plant host and insect vectors

Lamilla et al. (2023). Tropical Plant Pathology
Names (5)
Ca. Phytoplasma pruni Ca. Phytoplasma phoenicium Ca. Phytoplasma palmae Ca. Phytoplasma fraxini Ca. Phytoplasma asteris
AbstractPhytoplasmas are bacteria transmitted by insects that can cause plant diseases. In Bogotá 'Candidatus Phytoplasma asteris' and ' Candidatus Phytoplasma fraxini', infect 11 species of urban trees, weeds, grass, potato and strawberry. A set of primers, that amplify both phytoplasmas species were designed and used for absolute and relative qPCR quantification of the 16SrRNA gene. The primers AJ-16Sr-F/AJ-16Sr-R allowed the amplification of ‘Ca. P. asteris’, ‘Candidatus Phytoplasma palmae’, ‘Ca. P. fraxini’ and ‘Candidatus Phytoplasma phoenicium’, not of ‘Candidatus Phytoplasma pruni’. Absolute qPCR detected phytoplasmas between 1 × 109 and 1 × 103 copies/μL DNA extract. Two species-specific hydrolysis probes, AJ-16SrI-Cy5.5 and AJ-16SrVII-TexRed, were designed to detect 'Ca. P. asteris' and 'Ca. P. fraxini' respectively, using the AJ-16Sr-F/AJ-16Sr-R primers. For relative quantification, the 18SrRNA gene was used as normalizer. Relative qPCR detected phytoplasmas between 1 × 109 and 1 × 103 copies/μL DNA extract. Multiplex reactions allowed the specific quantification of 'Ca. P. asteris', 'Ca. P. fraxini' in comparison to the normalizer. qPCR methods were validated on natural hosts Andean oak trees and leafhoppers. The relative quantification values were higher for 'Ca. P. fraxini' (x̅ RQ = 3203.1 ± 2622,9 n = 14) compared with 'Ca. P. asteris' (x̅ RQ = 14.9 ± 24,5 n = 6) in oak tree samples. In the leafhoppers, the relative quantification values ranged between RQ = 26.5 and RQ = 294,927.3 for 'Ca. P. fraxini’ and RQ = 34.8 and RQ = 1722.2 for 'Ca. P. asteris'. In conclusion, although absolute qPCR allowed the quantification of phytoplasmas by comparing Cq (quantification cycle) values of samples with a standard curve, it did not allow to differentiate between 'Ca. P. asteris' and 'Ca. P. fraxini'. In contrast, relative qPCR assays using specific hydrolysis probes allowed the specific detection and quantification of each phytoplasma, in individual and mixed infections in insect vectors and plant hosts.