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Open Access Methodology

Rapid quantification of plant-powdery mildew interactions by qPCR and conidiospore counts

Ralf Weßling1 and Ralph Panstruga12*

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Plant-Microbe Interactions, Max-Planck-Institute for Plant Breeding Research, Carl-von-Linné-Weg 10, Cologne, 50829, Germany

2 Institute for Botany, Unit of Plant Molecular Cell Biology, RWTH Aachen University, Aachen, 52056, Germany

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Plant Methods 2012, 8:35  doi:10.1186/1746-4811-8-35

Published: 31 August 2012

Abstract

Background

The powdery mildew disease represents a valuable patho-system to study the interaction between plant hosts and obligate biotrophic fungal pathogens. Numerous discoveries have been made on the basis of the quantitative evaluation of plant-powdery mildew interactions, especially in the context of hyper-susceptible and/or resistant plant mutants. However, the presently available methods to score the pathogenic success of powdery mildew fungi are laborious and thus not well suited for medium- to high-throughput analysis.

Results

Here we present two new protocols that allow the rapid quantitative assessment of powdery mildew disease development. One procedure depends on quantitative polymerase chain reaction (qPCR)-based evaluation of fungal biomass, while the other relies on the quantification of fungal conidiospores. We validated both techniques using the powdery mildew pathogen Golovinomyces orontii on a set of hyper-susceptible and resistant Arabidopsis thaliana mutants and found that both cover a wide dynamic range of one to two (qPCR) and four to five (quantification of conidia) orders of magnitude, respectively. The two approaches yield reproducible results and are easy to perform without specialized equipment.

Conclusions

The qPCR and spore count assays rapidly and reproducibly quantify powdery mildew pathogenesis. Our methods are performed at later stages of infection and discern mutant phenotypes accurately. The assays therefore complement currently used procedures of powdery mildew quantification and can overcome some of their limitations. In addition, they can easily be adapted to other plant-powdery mildew patho-systems.

Keywords:
Arabidopsis thaliana; Conidiospores; Golovinomyces orontii; Powdery mildew; Quantification; qPCR