Molecular characterization and development of real-time PCR assay for pine-wood nematode Bursaphelenchus xylophilus (Nematoda: Parasitaphelenchidae)

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Abstract

Bursaphelenchus xylophilus, the pine-wood nematode (PWN), is the causal agent of pine wilt disease, one of the most damaging emerging pest problems to forests around the world. It is native to North America where it causes relatively minor damage to native conifers but is labeled an EPPO-A-2 pest and a quarantine nematode for many countries outside of the United States because of its potential for destruction to their native conifers. Exports of wood logs and commodities involving softwood packaging materials now require a lab test for the presence/absence of this regulated nematode species. We characterized the DNA sequences on the ribosomal DNA small subunit, large subunit D2/D3, internal transcribed spacer (ITS) and mitochondrial DNA cytochrome oxidase subunit one on the aphelenchid species and described the development of a real-time-PCR method for rapid and accurate identification of PWN targeting the ITS-1. A total of 97 nematode populations were used to evaluate the specificity and sensitivity of this assay, including 45 populations of B. xylophilus and 36 populations of 21 other species of Bursaphelenchus which belong to the abietinus, cocophilus, eggersi, fungivorus, hofmanni, kevini, leoni, sexdentati, and xylophilus groups and one unassigned group from a total of 13 groups in the genus Bursaphelenchus; 15 populations of Aphelenchoides besseyi, A. fragariae, Aphelenchoides species and Aphelenchus avenae; and one population of mixed nematode species from a soil sample. This assay proved to be specific to B. xylophilus only and was sensitive to a single nematode specimen regardless of the life stages present. This approach provides rapid species identification necessary to comply with the zero-tolerance export regulations.

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Ye, W., & Giblin-Davis, R. M. (2013). Molecular characterization and development of real-time PCR assay for pine-wood nematode Bursaphelenchus xylophilus (Nematoda: Parasitaphelenchidae). PLoS ONE, 8(11). https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0078804

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