Droplet digital polymerase chain reaction (ddPCR) is a method for performing digital PCR that is based on water-oil emulsion droplet technology. It is a unique approach to measure the absolute copy number of nucleic acid targets without the need of external standards. This study evaluated the applicability of ddPCR as a quantitative detection tool for the Spiroplasma citri, causal agent of citrus stubborn disease (CSD) in citrus. Two sets of primers, SP1, based on the spiral in housekeeping gene, and a multicopy prophage gene, SpV1 ORF1, were used to evaluate ddPCR in comparison with real time (quantitative) PCR (qPCR) for S. citri detection in citrus tissues. Standard curve analyses on tenfold dilution series showed that both ddPCR and qPCR exhibited good linearity and efficiency. However, ddPCR had a tenfold greater sensitivity than qPCR and accurately quantified up to one copy of spiralin gene. Receiver operating characteristic analysis indicated that the ddPCR methodology was more robust for diagnosis of CSD and the area under the curve was significantly broader compared to qPCR. Field samples were used to validate ddPCR efficacy and demonstrated that it was equal or better than qPCR to detect S. citri infection in fruit columella due to a higher pathogen titer. The ddPCR assay detected both the S. citri spiralin and the SpV1 ORF1 targets quantitatively with high precision and accuracy compared to qPCR assay. The ddPCR was highly reproducible and repeatable for both the targets and showed higher resilience to PCR inhibitors in citrus tissue extract for the quantification of S. citri compare to qPCR.
Maheshwari, Y., Selvaraj, V., Hajeri, S., & Yokomi, R. (2017). Application of droplet digital PCR for quantitative detection of Spiroplasma citri in comparison with real time PCR. PLoS ONE, 12(9). https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0184751