Enhanced Reliability and Accuracy for Field Deployable Bioforensic Detection and Discrimination of Xylella fastidiosa subsp pauca, Causal Agent of Citrus Variegated Chlorosis Using Razor Ex Technology and TaqMan Quantitative PCR
A reliable, accurate and rapid multigene-based assay combining real time quantitative PCR (qPCR) and a Razor Ex BioDetection System (Razor Ex) was validated for detection of Xylella fastidiosa subsp. pauca (Xfp, a xylem-limited bacterium that causes citrus variegated chlorosis [CVC]). CVC, which is exotic to the United States, has spread through South and Central America and could significantly impact U. S. citrus if it arrives. A method for early, accurate and sensitive detection of Xfp in plant tissues is needed by plant health officials for inspection of products from quarantined locations, and by extension specialists for detection, identification and management of disease outbreaks and reservoir hosts. Two sets of specific PCR primers and probes, targeting Xfp genes for fimbrillin and the periplasmic iron-binding protein were designed. A third pair of primers targeting the conserved cobalamin synthesis protein gene was designed to detect all possible X. fastidiosa (Xf) strains. All three primer sets detected as little as 1 fg of plasmid DNA carrying X. fastidiosa target sequences and genomic DNA of Xfp at as little as 1 - 10 fg. The use of Razor Ex facilitates a rapid (about 30 min) in-field assay capability for detection of all Xf strains, and for specific detection of Xfp. Combined use of three primer sets targeting different genes increased the assay accuracy and broadened the range of detection. To our knowledge, this is the first report of a field-deployable rapid and reliable bioforensic detection and discrimination method for a bacterial phytopathogen based on multigene targets.