Researchers at the Institute of Cellular and Molecular Biology of Plants (IBMCP), a joint venture of Valencia’s Polytechnic University (UPV) and the Spanish National Research Council (CSIC), have developed a new analysis kit that makes it possible to detect, with just one test and at a reduced cost, all Potyvirus species, the largest vegetable virus genus.
The Potyvirus genus is comprised of 148 species, some of which are financially very important as they are responsible for a large part of the loss of fruit and vegetable crops. “They represent the largest threat for potato production in the world and can decrease crop efficiency by up to 90%. Furthermore, it causes the most destructive stone diseases for fruits worldwide,” explains Jesús Ángel Sánchez, researcher at the IBMCP.
A majority of the systems currently available to detect viruses are based on a combination of field inspections – which detects visual symptoms – and serological tests. These methods require a lot of time or are expensive. “Out kit makes it possible to detect all the species of a virus genus in a quick, simple way and with just one test,” highlights Jesús Ángel Sánchez. Furthermore, the possibility to reuse specific probes enables large-scale prospecting at a very affordable price.
The device developed by the IBMCP relies on non-radioactive molecular hybridisation and the ability that this technique has to detect several genetic sequences.
Simple and effective technology
The kit uses tandem fusion of different nucleic acid fragments, which enable the detection of complementary sequences with high sensibility (picograms), increasing its efficiency and success rate. When 50-degree hybridisation is carried out, it detects all sequences that share at least 68% of their identity. Furthermore, this process is carried out with little use of materials, which reduces analysis cost and optimises its completion time.
A growing product
The new kit is able to detect all virus in the Potyvirus genus, and could also identify new types of virus that have not been described previously. It could be used to detect practically all viruses of interest to agronomists, such as those belonging to the following families: Potexvirus (41 species), Tospovirus (25) or Begomovirus (108).
“The use of several specific probes on the same type of crop (pepper and tomatoes are some of the most affected vegetables) could link all viruses that affect that specific crop, and on the long term could be expandable and adaptable to detect any type of virus, not just those related to agronomy,” concludes Jesús Ángel Sánchez.