• Molecular diagnostics;
  • oilseed rape;
  • Phoma;
  • Rlm7;
  • virulence


The oilseed rape (Brassica napus) stem canker disease, due to the fungal pathogen Leptosphaeria maculans, is mainly controlled by host genetic resistance. Since 2004, the specific resistance gene Rlm7 is widely used in France. Specific resistance is effective when fungal populations are mainly composed of avirulent isolates. The development of molecular tools for the identification of virulent isolates towards Rlm7 was needed to undertake large-scale surveys and to monitor the emergence of virulent populations in fields. Previous studies have described a large diversity of molecular events leading to virulence towards Rlm7, rendering conventional polymerase chain reaction (PCR) methods inapplicable to identify virulent isolates. Interestingly, a very limited nucleotide polymorphism was observed for avirulent, AvrLm7, alleles. Such characteristics were exploited here to develop a diagnostic method based on high resolution melting (HRM) analysis of the AvrLm4-7 gene. High resolution melting analysis of a collection of 206 reference isolates revealed only four different profiles within 100 avirulent isolates and 87% of virulent isolates showed either no amplification or HRM curves distinct from those of avirulent isolates. The reliability of the method was confirmed using a second set of 119 unknown isolates, for which biological phenotyping and HRM genotyping were in agreement for 93% of the isolates. HRM combined with the PCR amplification of a larger fragment encompassing AvrLm4-7 led to a correct diagnostic for 97.5% of the isolates.