A New Test to Detect Okra Disease Accurately and Quickly

Greg Howard
19th April, 2024

A New Test to Detect Okra Disease Accurately and Quickly

Image Source: Natural Science News, 2024

Key Findings

  • In Japan, researchers developed a new method to detect a fungus threatening okra crops
  • The method uses a unique DNA primer to identify the fungus with high accuracy
  • This early detection can help farmers prevent crop damage by taking timely action
Fusarium wilt is a serious plant disease that has recently emerged as a threat to okra cultivation in Japan. First reported in 2015, this disease is caused by the fungus Fusarium buharicum and has been known to cause considerable damage to okra seedlings. Recognizing the potential risk to this important crop, researchers at Shimane University have focused their efforts on developing a reliable method to detect the presence of F. buharicum in both infected plants and contaminated soil[1]. This is critical for the effective surveillance and management of the disease. The study from Shimane University has made significant strides by designing a specific primer set and developing both conventional and nested PCR assays. These assays are designed to detect F. buharicum DNA in okra plants and soil samples. PCR, or polymerase chain reaction, is a molecular technique used to amplify small segments of DNA, making it easier to study the genetic material of organisms. In this context, the researchers designed a primer that targets a unique region of the F. buharicum genome, specifically a part of the translation elongation factor 1 alpha (EF-1α) gene. This particular gene was chosen because of its diversity among different fungal species, which allows for the creation of a species-specific primer. The primer set developed by the researchers was able to amplify a 400 base pair segment of DNA that was unique to F. buharicum, without cross-reacting with other fungal species. This specificity is crucial for ensuring that the detection method does not give false positives by mistakenly identifying other fungi as F. buharicum. The nested PCR method, which involves two rounds of PCR to increase sensitivity, was shown to be highly sensitive, capable of detecting the fungus from an extremely small amount of DNA—just 0.01 femtograms. This new detection method has practical applications, as it was successfully used to identify the pathogen in artificially infected okra plants and soil. The ability to detect the fungus at such early stages and with such precision is a significant step forward in managing Fusarium wilt. Early detection allows for timely control measures, potentially saving crops from devastation and reducing the economic impact on farmers. The research builds upon previous studies that investigated the Fusarium buharicum species complex (FBSC). A study had recognized seven genealogically exclusive species within the FBSC and described the potential of these species to produce mycotoxins and other secondary metabolites[2]. The study also highlighted the importance of understanding the evolutionary relationships and species diversity within this group of fungi. The current research at Shimane University expands on this knowledge by providing a practical tool for the agricultural community to specifically target one member of the FBSC, F. buharicum, which is now a known pathogen of okra. Furthermore, the importance of early and accurate detection of plant pathogens is underscored by another study that emphasized the need for rapid response frameworks to biological invasions by plant pathogens[3]. The development of sensitive molecular techniques, such as the PCR assays created by Shimane University researchers, is in line with the global shift towards proactive plant disease management strategies. These strategies aim to detect and mitigate the spread of pathogens before they can cause widespread damage to crops and ecosystems. In summary, the development of species-specific PCR assays by Shimane University represents a significant advancement in the management of Fusarium wilt in okra. By allowing for the specific and sensitive detection of F. buharicum, these assays enable early interventions that can help contain the disease and protect okra crops. This research not only contributes to the body of scientific knowledge on the FBSC but also provides valuable tools for the agricultural industry to combat the spread of plant diseases.

AgricultureBiotechPlant Science


Main Study

1) Development of a PCR-based assay for specific and sensitive detection of Fusarium buharicum from infected okra plant.

Published 16th April, 2024


Related Studies

2) Fusarium abutilonis and F. guadeloupense, two novel species in the Fusarium buharicum clade supported by multilocus molecular phylogenetic analyses.


3) Fast and reliable molecular methods to detect fungal pathogens in woody plants.


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