Sensitive detection of Fusarium circinatum in pine seed by combining an enrichment procedure with a real-time polymerase chain reaction using dual-labeled probe chemistry

Phytopathology. 2009 May;99(5):582-90. doi: 10.1094/PHYTO-99-5-0582.


Fusarium circinatum is the causal agent of pitch canker disease on numerous Pinus spp. This aggressive fungus may infect pine seed cryptically and, therefore, can easily be spread long distances by the seed trade. F. circinatum has recently been listed as a quarantine organism in numerous countries throughout the world, which prompted the development of a specific and sensitive tool for the detection of this pathogen in conifer seed. A new detection protocol for F. circinatum based on a biological enrichment step followed by a real-time polymerase chain reaction (PCR) assay was developed. Several enrichment protocols were compared and a 72-h incubation of the seed with potato dextrose broth was the most efficient technique to increase F. circinatum biomass before DNA extraction. The relative accuracy, specificity, and sensitivity of the real-time PCR assay was evaluated in comparison with a previously published conventional PCR test on 420 seed DNA extracts. The real-time PCR described here proved to be highly specific and significantly more sensitive than the conventional PCR, and enabled the detection of F. circinatum in samples artificially contaminated with less than 1/1,000 infected seed, as well as in naturally infected samples. Last, in order to routinely check the quality of the seed DNA extracts, a primer-probe combination that targets a highly conserved region within the 18S ribosomal DNA in plants or fungi was successfully developed. This assay allows for quick and reliable detection of F. circinatum in seed, which can help to prevent long-distance spread of the pathogen via contaminated seed lots.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • DNA Primers / metabolism
  • DNA, Fungal / genetics
  • DNA, Fungal / isolation & purification
  • DNA, Ribosomal / genetics
  • Fusarium / genetics
  • Fusarium / isolation & purification*
  • Molecular Probes / metabolism*
  • Pinus / microbiology*
  • Reference Standards
  • Reverse Transcriptase Polymerase Chain Reaction / methods*
  • Seeds / microbiology*
  • Staining and Labeling / methods*


  • DNA Primers
  • DNA, Fungal
  • DNA, Ribosomal
  • Molecular Probes