Design of a species-specific PCR method for the detection of the heat-resistant fungi Talaromyces macrosporus and Talaromyces trachyspermus

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Heat-resistant fungi occur sporadically and are a continuing problem for the food and beverage industry. The genus Talaromyces, as a typical fungus, is capable of producing the heat-resistant ascospores responsible for the spoilage of processed food products. Isocitrate lyase, a signature enzyme of the glyoxylate cycle, is required for the metabolism of non-fermentable carbon compounds, like acetate and ethanol. Here, species-specific primer sets for detection and identification of DNA derived from Talaromyces macrosporus and Talaromyces trachyspermus were designed based on the nucleotide sequences of their isocitrate lyase genes. Polymerase chain reaction (PCR) using a species-specific primer set amplified products specific to T. macrosporus and T. trachyspermus. Other fungal species, such as Byssochlamys fulva and Hamigera striata, which cause food spoilage, were not detected using the Talaromyces-specific primer sets. The detection limit for each species-specific primer set was determined as being 50 pg of template DNA, without using a nested PCR method. The specificity of each species-specific primer set was maintained in the presence of 1,000-fold amounts of genomic DNA from other fungi. The method also detected fungal DNA extracted from blueberry inoculated with T. macrosporus. This PCR method provides a quick, simple, powerful and reliable way to detect T. macrosporus and T. trachyspermus.

Significance and Impact of the Study

Polymerase chain reaction (PCR)-based detection is rapid, convenient and sensitive compared with traditional methods of detecting heat-resistant fungi. In this study, a PCR-based method was developed for the detection and identification of amplification products from Talaromyces macrosporus and Talaromyces trachyspermus using primer sets that target the isocitrate lyase gene. This method could be used for the on-site detection of T. macrosporus and T. trachyspermus in the near future, and will be helpful in the safety control of raw materials and in food and beverage production.

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