• Aesculus hippocastanum;
  • bleeding canker;
  • gyrase B gene sequence;
  • Pseudomonas syringae pv. aesculi;
  • real-time PCR

Pseudomonas syringae pv. aesculi is a pathogenic bacterium causing bleeding canker disease of horse chestnut (Aesculus hippocastanum). This is a serious disease which has been affecting horse chestnut in several European countries over the last five years; however, very little is known about the biology of the causal agent. One of the obstacles to studying this pathogen is the lengthy procedure associated with confirming its presence on the host. In this study, P. syringae pv. aesculi was isolated from lesions on different parts of horse chestnut and its pathogenicity confirmed on horse chestnut saplings using two inoculation techniques. Real-time PCR primers were developed based on gyrase B gene sequence data for the specific detection of P. syringae pv. aesculi. Primer specificity was tested on isolates of the target pathogen as well as on a broad range of related non-target bacteria and other bacterial spp. which inhabit horse chestnut. The real-time primers reliably amplified P. syringae pv. aesculi down to 1 pg of extracted DNA, with and without the presence of host DNA, and also amplified unextracted DNA in whole cells of the bacterium down to at least 160 colony forming units. Detection and quantification of the target pathogen in phloem and xylem of both naturally infected and inoculated horse chestnut tissues was also demonstrated. This quantitative real-time PCR assay provides the facility to study several important aspects of the biology of P. syringae pv. aesculi on horse chestnut including its potential for dissemination in different substrates.