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Open Access Open Badges Methodology article

Development of a versatile tool for the simultaneous differential detection of Pseudomonas savastanoi pathovars by End Point and Real-Time PCR

Stefania Tegli*, Matteo Cerboneschi, Ilaria Marsili Libelli and Elena Santilli

Author Affiliations

Dipartimento di Biotecnologie Agrarie, Sez. Patologia vegetale, Laboratorio di Patologia Vegetale Molecolare, Università degli Studi di Firenze, Via della Lastruccia 10, 50019 Sesto Fiorentino, Firenze, Italy

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BMC Microbiology 2010, 10:156  doi:10.1186/1471-2180-10-156

Published: 28 May 2010



Pseudomonas savastanoi pv. savastanoi is the causal agent of olive knot disease. The strains isolated from oleander and ash belong to the pathovars nerii and fraxini, respectively. When artificially inoculated, pv. savastanoi causes disease also on ash, and pv. nerii attacks also olive and ash. Surprisingly nothing is known yet about their distribution in nature on these hosts and if spontaneous cross-infections occur. On the other hand sanitary certification programs for olive plants, also including P. savastanoi, were launched in many countries. The aim of this work was to develop several PCR-based tools for the rapid, simultaneous, differential and quantitative detection of these P. savastanoi pathovars, in multiplex and in planta.


Specific PCR primers and probes for the pathovars savastanoi, nerii and fraxini of P. savastanoi were designed to be used in End Point and Real-Time PCR, both with SYBR® Green or TaqMan® chemistries. The specificity of all these assays was 100%, as assessed by testing forty-four P. savastanoi strains, belonging to the three pathovars and having different geographical origins. For comparison strains from the pathovars phaseolicola and glycinea of P. savastanoi and bacterial epiphytes from P. savastanoi host plants were also assayed, and all of them tested always negative. The analytical detection limits were about 5 - 0.5 pg of pure genomic DNA and about 102 genome equivalents per reaction. Similar analytical thresholds were achieved in Multiplex Real-Time PCR experiments, even on artificially inoculated olive plants.


Here for the first time a complex of PCR-based assays were developed for the simultaneous discrimination and detection of P. savastanoi pv. savastanoi, pv. nerii and pv. fraxini. These tests were shown to be highly reliable, pathovar-specific, sensitive, rapid and able to quantify these pathogens, both in multiplex reactions and in vivo. Compared with the other methods already available for P. savastanoi, the identification procedures here reported provide a versatile tool both for epidemiological and ecological studies on these pathovars, and for diagnostic procedures monitoring the asymptomatic presence of P. savastanoi on olive and oleander propagation materials.