Pathways to false-positive diagnoses using molecular genetic detection methods;Phytophthora cinnamomia case study

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Abstract

Phytophthora cinnamomi is one of the world's most invasive plant pathogens affecting ornamental plants, horticultural crops and natural ecosystems. Accurate diagnosis is very important to determine the presence or absence of this pathogen in diseased and asymptomatic plants. In previous studies, P. cinnamomi species-specific primers were designed and tested using various polymerase chain reaction (PCR) techniques including conventional PCR, nested PCR and quantitative real-time PCR. In all cases, the primers were stated to be highly specific and sensitive to P. cinnamomi. However, few of these studies tested their primers against closely related Phytophthora species (Phytophthora clade 7). In this study, we tested these purported P. cinnamomi-specific primer sets against 11 other species from clade 7 and determined their specificity; of the eight tested primer sets only three were specific to P. cinnamomi. This study demonstrated the importance of testing primers against closely related species within the same clade, and not just other species within the same genus. The findings of this study are relevant to all species-specific microbial diagnosis.

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