Development of a high-throughput technique to differentiate Botryosphaeria species
Scion is the leading provider of forest-related knowledge in New Zealand
Formerly known as the Forest Research Institute, Scion has been a leader in research relating to forest health for over 50 years. The Rotorua-based Crown Research Institute continues to provide science that will protect all forests from damage caused by insect pests, pathogens and weeds. The information presented below arises from these research activities.
From Forest Health News 232, January 2013.
Members of the family or group of fungi known as the Botryosphaeriaceae occur on a wide range of hosts and ecological habits and can cause diebacks, cankers, sap stain, witches brooms and leaf blights, or they can be endophytes. They are frequently described as weak or opportunistic pathogens that cause disease in stressed hosts, but evidence is accumulating that certain strains are primary pathogens. Diseases caused by Botryosphaeria are common in gymnosperms and Sphaeropsis sapinea, which belongs in the same group, is the cause of diplodia leader dieback, crown wilt and whorl canker in pines. Molecular tools have been developed for identification of Botryosphaeria spp., and for characterising populations. However, these methods are slow and laborious and are not suitable for high-throughput diagnostics which require a reasonably fast identification. Botryosphaeria species are notoriously difficult to identify morphologically and sporulation can take a very long time. Molecular
identification can be also be complicated within various groups.
Rebecca McDougal, a molecular pathologist at Scion, is currently developing a real-time PCR high resolution melting analysis (HRMA) method that can be used for differentiation of a group of species of Botryosphaeria that are often encountered on samples sent to the Forest Health Reference Laboratory through the High Risk Site Surveillance and Forest Surveillance programmes. This method will enable species to be identified quickly and with high-throughput capability for large sample numbers. Collaboration with Dr Hayley Ridgway at Lincoln University will enable validation with an additional culture collection that contains specimens not found in the Scion Forest Research culture collection.
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(Scion is the trading name of the New Zealand Forest Research Institute Limited.)