Specific and sensitive detection of Ralstonia solanacearum in soil on the basis of PCR amplification of fliC fragments

J. Schonfeld, H. Heuer, J.D. van Elsas, K. Smalla

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    Ralstonia solanacearum is the causative agent of bacterial wilt in many important crops. A specific and sensitive PCR detection method that uses primers targeting the gene coding for the flagella subunit, fliC, was established. Based on the first fliC gene sequence of R. solanacearum strain K60 available at GenBank, the Ral_fliC PCR primer system was designed; this system yielded a single 724-bp product with the DNAs of all of the R. solanacearum strains tested. However, R. pickettii and four environmental Ralstonia isolates also yielded amplicons. The Ral_fliC PCR products obtained with 12 strains (R. solanacearum, R. pickettii, and environmental isolates) were sequenced. By sequence alignment, Rsol_fliC primers specific for R. solanacearum were designed. With this primer system, a specific 400-bp PCR product was obtained from all 82 strains of R. solanacearum tested. Six strains of R. pickettii and several closely related environmental isolates yielded no PCR product; however, a product was obtained with one Pseudomonas syzygii strain. A GC-clamped 400-bp fliC product could be separated in denaturing gradient gels and allowed us to distinguish P. syzygii from R. solanacearum. The Rsol_fliC PCR system was applied to detect R. solanacearum in soil. PCR amplification, followed by Southern blot hybridization, allowed us to detect about one target DNA molecule per PCR, which is equivalent to 103 CFU g of bulk soil-1. The system was applied to survey soils from different geographic origins for the presence of R. solanacearum.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)7248-7256
    JournalApplied and Environmental Microbiology
    Issue number12
    Publication statusPublished - 2003


    • polymerase-chain-reaction
    • 16s ribosomal-rna
    • blood-disease bacterium
    • pseudomonas-solanacearum
    • flagellin gene
    • escherichia-coli
    • sequence
    • virulence
    • identification
    • diversity


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