PCR Multiplexes Discriminate Fusarium Symbionts of Invasive Euwallacea Ambrosia Beetles that Inflict Damage on Numerous Tree Species Throughout the United States

Plant Dis. 2017 Jan;101(1):233-240. doi: 10.1094/PDIS-07-16-1046-RE. Epub 2016 Nov 1.


Asian Euwallacea ambrosia beetles vector Fusarium mutualists. The ambrosial fusaria are all members of the ambrosia Fusarium clade (AFC) within the Fusarium solani species complex (FSSC). Several Euwallacea-Fusarium mutualists have been introduced into nonnative regions and have caused varying degrees of damage to orchard, landscape, and forest trees. Knowledge of symbiont fidelity is limited by current identification methods, which typically requires analysis of DNA sequence data from beetles and the symbionts cultured from their oral mycangia. Here, polymerase chain reaction (PCR)-based diagnostic tools were developed to identify the six Fusarium symbionts of exotic Euwallacea spp. currently known within the United States. Whole-genome sequences were generated for representatives of six AFC species plus F. ambrosium and aligned to the annotated genome of F. euwallaceae. Taxon-specific primer-annealing sites were identified that rapidly distinguish the AFC species currently within the United States. PCR specificity, reliability, and sensitivity were validated using a panel of 72 Fusarium isolates, including 47 reference cultures. Culture-independent multiplex assays accurately identified two AFC fusaria using DNA isolated from heads of their respective beetle partners. The PCR assays were used to show that Euwallacea validus is exclusively associated with AF-4 throughout its sampled range within eastern North America. The rapid assay supports federal and state agency efforts to monitor spread of these invasive pests and mitigate further introductions.