The development of a rapid PCR assay for detection of Fusarium moniliforme

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The fungus Fusarium moniliforme infects a wide range of crops throughout the world. In maize (Zea mays L.) it causes seedling blight and root, stalk, and ear rots. A simple procedure that can be used to detect infection by F. moliliforme from infected plant tissues has been developed. A F. moniliforme genomic library was prepared and used to identify the recombinant clones containing fungal DNA sequences not hybridizing with the DNA of the host plant, maize. Based on the nucleotide sequence information obtained from the F. moniliforme pUCF2 genomic clone, specific oligonucleotides were designed and used as primers for in vitro DNA amplification by the polymerase chain reaction. An amplification product was obtained with F. moniliforme DNA preparations whereas no amplified DNA was detected with DNAs from other fungal pathogens, including various Fusarium species, or from the host plant. This PCR analysis was successfully employed to identify F. moniliforme directly from the mycelia that develop from naturally infected maize seeds, with no need to obtain pure fungal cultures for reliable diagnosis. The protocol can be used for the diagnosis of infected plants and soils in epidemiological studies of Fusarium diseases, for seed health testing, and for evaluation of susceptibility to colonization in commercial maize hybrids.

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