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Mol Cell Probes. 2013 Oct-Dec;27(5-6):221-9. doi: 10.1016/j.mcp.2013.07.003. Epub 2013 Aug 8.

Rapid differentiation of citrus Hop stunt viroid variants by real-time RT-PCR and high resolution melting analysis.

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Dipartimento di Scienze del Suolo, della Pianta e degli Alimenti, Università di Bari "Aldo Moro", Via Amendola 165/A, 70126 Bari, Italy.


The RNA genome of pathogenic and non-pathogenic variants of citrus Hop stunt viroid (HSVd) differ by five to six nucleotides located within the variable (V) domain referred to as the "cachexia expression motif". Sensitive hosts such as mandarin and its hybrids are seriously affected by cachexia disease. Current methods to differentiate HSVd variants rely on lengthy greenhouse biological indexing on Parson's Special mandarin and/or direct nucleotide sequence analysis of amplicons from RT-PCR of HSVd-infected plants. Two independent high throughput assays to segregate HSVd variants by real-time RT-PCR and High-Resolution Melting Temperature (HRM) analysis were developed: one based on EVAGreen dye; the other based on TaqMan probes. Primers for both assays targeted three differentiating nucleotides in the V domain which separated HSVd variants into three clusters by distinct melting temperatures with a confidence level higher than 98%. The accuracy of the HRM assays were validated by nucleotide sequencing of representative samples within each HRM cluster and by testing 45 HSVd-infected field trees from California, Italy, Spain, Syria and Turkey. To our knowledge, this is the first report of a rapid and sensitive approach to detect and differentiate HSVd variants associated with different biological behaviors. Although, HSVd is found in several crops including citrus, cachexia variants are restricted to some citrus-growing areas, particularly the Mediterranean Region. Rapid diagnosis for cachexia and non-cachexia variants is, thus, important for the management of HSVd in citrus and reduces the need for bioindexing and sequencing analysis.


Cachexia; Citrus; HRM; Real time; Viroid

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