Pathogens (Feb 2022)

Real-Time On-Site Diagnosis of Quarantine Pathogens in Plant Tissues by Nanopore-Based Sequencing

  • Luca Marcolungo,
  • Alessandro Passera,
  • Simone Maestri,
  • Elena Segala,
  • Massimiliano Alfano,
  • Francesca Gaffuri,
  • Giovanni Marturano,
  • Paola Casati,
  • Piero Attilio Bianco,
  • Massimo Delledonne

Journal volume & issue
Vol. 11, no. 2
p. 199


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Rapid and sensitive assays for the identification of plant pathogens are necessary for the effective management of crop diseases. The main limitation of current diagnostic testing is the inability to combine broad and sensitive pathogen detection with the identification of key strains, pathovars, and subspecies. Such discrimination is necessary for quarantine pathogens, whose management is strictly dependent on genotype identification. To address these needs, we have established and evaluated a novel all-in-one diagnostic assay based on nanopore sequencing for the detection and simultaneous characterization of quarantine pathogens, using Xylella fastidiosa as a case study. The assay proved to be at least as sensitive as standard diagnostic tests and the quantitative results agreed closely with qPCR-based analysis. The same sequencing results also allowed discrimination between subspecies when present either individually or in combination. Pathogen detection and typing were achieved within 13 min of sequencing owing to the use of an internal control that allowed to stop sequencing when sufficient data had accumulated. These advantages, combined with the use of portable equipment, will facilitate the development of next-generation diagnostic assays for the efficient monitoring of other plant pathogens.