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Keywords:

  • Botryosphaeriaceae;
  • grapevines;
  • dispersal;
  • single stranded conformational polymorphism;
  • species specific PCR;
  • Vitis vinifera

Botryosphaeriaceous species are significant grapevine trunk pathogens worldwide, which can be difficult to identify to species level using conventional morphological methods. This study developed and optimized a quick, reliable molecular identification method that could facilitate investigations into the epidemiology of these diseases in vineyards. The multi-species primers, BOT100F and BOT472R, amplified a 371–372 bp portion of the rRNA gene region from the six botryosphaeriaceous species commonly found in New Zealand vineyards. In silico analysis indicated that they would amplify DNA from six of the 12 lineages of the Botryosphaeriaceae, including all of the main species pathogenic to grapevines. A detection sensitivity of 1 and 0·1 pg DNA in standard and nested PCR, respectively, was achieved and this was calculated as equivalent to 2·5 conidia. Validation of the primers for environmental samples showed that their specificity was not compromized by the presence of competing DNA templates extracted from wood and soil. Single stranded conformational polymorphism (SSCP) analysis of the amplicons could resolve Neofusicoccum australe, N. luteum, Diplodia mutila and D. seriata, but did not differentiate between N. parvum and N. ribis. The optimized PCR-SSCP was used to identify botryosphaeriaceous species present in rainwater traps collected over 1 year in a vineyard known to contain infected vines. It could detect multiple species in individual samples and demonstrated differences in the dispersal patterns of conidia from different species. Given the specificity and sensitivity of this method it could prove useful in epidemiology studies involving the numerous botryosphaeriaceous species that infect a wide range of host species.