Real-time PCR, a great tool for fast identification, sensitive detection and quantification of important plant-parasitic nematodes
Plant-parasitic nematodes can cause significant damage to agricultural crops and forests worldwide, resulting in major economic losses. Some nematode species do not occur in all areas and are regulated as quarantine organisms. To avoid introduction and spread of these organisms, fast, simple and reliable detection and identification methods are needed, that help plant diagnostic services such as reference centres or national plant protection organizations (NPPOs) to rapidly identify suspicious nematodes. Real-time PCR is one of the fastest, most sensitive and reliable methods to fulfil this task. It is a DNA-based method that is easy to learn with the only requirement of having a specific thermocycler (Real-time Platform) and the appropriate chemistry. Real-time PCR provides very sensitive detection and species-specific identification with the potential to quantify target organisms if required. Following DNA extraction, results can be seen in 1–3 h and management decisions applied. Real-time PCR can be used for high-throughput analysis of many samples and in some cases for multiplexing, allowing for identification of more than one species in a single reaction. Over the past 15 years, real-time PCR methods have been developed for the main plant-parasitic nematodes, in particular the regulated species. This paper reviews the achievements in plant nematology diagnostics using real-time PCR as the method of choice for fast and reliable detection, identification and even quantification of plant parasitic nematodes.
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