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Virol J. 2016 Mar 22;13:48. doi: 10.1186/s12985-016-0504-8.

Evaluation of recombinase polymerase amplification for detection of begomoviruses by plant diagnostic clinics.

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Department of Plant Pathology, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL, 32611, USA.
Department of Plant Pathology, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL, 32611, USA.



Plant viruses in the genus Begomovirus, family Geminiviridae often cause substantial crop losses. These viruses have been emerging in many locations throughout the tropics and subtropics. Like many plant viruses, they are often not recognized by plant diagnostic clinics due in large part to the lack of rapid and cost effective assays. An isothermal amplification assay, Recombinase polymerase amplification (RPA), was evaluated for its ability to detect three begomoviruses and for its suitability for use in plant diagnostic clinics. Methods for DNA extraction and separation of amplicons from proteins used in the assay were modified and compared to RPA manufacturer's protocols. The modified RPA assays were compared to PCR assays for sensitivity, use in downstream applications, cost, and speed.


Recombinase polymerase amplification (RPA) assays for the detection of Bean golden yellow mosaic virus, Tomato mottle virus and Tomato yellow leaf curl virus (TYLCV) were specific, only amplifying the target viruses in three different host species. RPA was able to detect the target virus when the template was in a crude extract generated using a simple inexpensive extraction method, while PCR was not. Separation of RPA-generated amplicons from DNA-binding proteins could be accomplished by several methods, all of which were faster and less expensive than that recommended by the manufacturer. Use of these modifications resulted in an RPA assay that was faster than PCR but with a similar reagent cost. This modified RPA was the more cost effective assay when labor is added to the cost since RPA can be performed much faster than PCR. RPA had a sensitivity approximate to that of ELISA when crude extract was used as template. RPA-generated amplicons could be used in downstream applications (TA cloning, digestion with a restriction endonuclease, direct sequencing) similar to PCR but unlike some other isothermal reactions.


RPA could prove useful for the cost effective detection of plant viruses by plant diagnostic clinics. It can be performed in one hour or less with a reagent cost similar to that of PCR but with a lower labor cost, and with an acceptable level of sensitivity and specificity.


Plant pathogen diagnostic assay; Plant virus detection; Polymerase chain reaction; Recombinase polymerase amplification

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