Development of Molecular Diagnostics for Plant-Parasitic Nematodes in BC
Title: Development of Molecular Diagnostics for Plant-Parasitic Nematodes in BC.
Co-Principal Investigators: Dr. Tom Forge, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada; Dr. Siva Sabaratnam, BC Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Fisheries; Dr. Paul Adams, Kwantlen Polytechnic University (KPU) Applied Genomics Centre https://www.kpu.ca/agr
Duration: April 1, 2021 to March 31, 2023
Soil-borne plant-parasitic nematodes (PPNs), particularly the root-lesion nematode Pratylenchus penetrans, are widespread in Fraser Valley soils used for berry production. The impacts of PPNs on early establishment and long-term productivity of raspberry and strawberry plantations have been recognized for decades. The impacts of PPNs on blueberry productivity in BC have become increasingly evident in more recent years as the industry has matured, and it is anticipated that PPN issues will become even more significant as the blueberry industry continues to mature and more sites are replanted.
Ready access to nematode testing services is important for growers of berry crops. Accurate information on the identity and quantity of PPNs present in any given field is crucial for the initial diagnosis of nematode problems as well as the implementation of any management plans to mitigate them. Historically, nematode analyses were available to growers on a fee-for-service basis. This service was recently discontinued and there are no nematode diagnostic services provided by either a government or private laboratory in BC. This project aims to develop a molecular-diagnostic procedure for quantitative analyses of populations of nematodes of greatest relevance for growers in BC.
A collaborative research project involving the BC Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Fisheries, Kwantlen Polytechnic University (KPU), and Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC)’s Summerland Research and Development Centre (SRDC) will develop a real-time quantitative polymerase chain reaction (qPCR) assay to identify and quantify key genera of PPNs in BC soils. The end-goal of the project is to develop a robust and accurate genus-level qPCR assay, and training and technology transfer that could deliver nematode identification and enumeration services to growers and agri-business in BC.
Specific objectives of the work proposed to be carried out by the AAFC-SRDC nematology lab are:
- Provide nematode specimens, from cultures and from field populations that have been characterized by the AAFC-SRDC nematology lab, to enable the KPU lab to develop accurate qPCR-based identification protocols; and
Validate and calibrate the qPCR protocols developed by the KPU lab, by comparison with conventional analyses across a range of soil types and cropping systems.