RT real-time PCR-based quantification ofUromyces fabae in planta


  • Editor: Richard Staples

Correspondence: Ralf Thomas Voegele, Fachgebiet Phytopathologie, Institut für Phytomedizin, Universität Hohenheim, Otto-Sander-Straße 5, 70599 Stuttgart, Germany. Tel.: +49 711 459 22837; fax: +49 711 459 22408; e-mail: ralf.voegele@uni-hohenheim.de


Quantification of obligate biotrophic parasites has been a long-standing problem in plant pathology. Many attempts have been made to determine how much of a pathogen is present in infected plant tissue. Methods of quantification included scoring disease symptoms, microscopic evaluation, determination of specific compounds like Ergosterol, and lately nucleic acid-based technologies. All of these methods have their drawbacks, and even real-time PCR may not be quantitative if for example the organism of interest has specific and differing numbers of nuclei in different infection structures. We applied reverse transcription (RT) real-time PCR to quantify Uromyces fabae within its host plant Vicia faba. We used three different genes, which have been shown to be constitutively expressed. Our analyses show an exponential increase of fungal material between 4 and 9 days post inoculation and thereafter reaching a steady state of around 45% of total RNA. We also used haustorium-specific genes to determine the amount of haustoria present at each time point. These analyses parallel the development of the whole fungus with the exception of the steady-state level, which is only around 5% of the total RNA. This indicates that RT real-time PCR is a suitable method for quantification of obligate biotrophic parasites, and also for the differentiation of developmental stages.