Biotech Updates

New Technique Improves Sensitivity of PCR Pathogen Detection

April 29, 2011

Scientists from the U.S. Department of Agriculture have developed a new PCR technique designed for detecting plant disease organisms. Conventional PCR-based diagnostic tools can be unsuccessful in probing and multiplying the culprit's genetic material when the number of target cells is limited. Thus, Norm Schaad and colleagues devised an initial tool before amplification of the DNA. This is called Bio-PCR, which uses a liquid media that promotes exponential increase in the number of target organism's cell in a sample in four to 72 hours. After this technique, detection by direct PCR would be easier.

Bio-PCR has been tested to a wide range of pathogens, such as the fast-growing Ralstonia solanacearum, which causes bacterial wilt in tomato and potato; as well as with slow-growing pathogens like Xylella fastidiosa, which causes Pierce's disease in grapes.

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