Evaluation of an RNA-based PCR assay to detect viable Candidatus Liberibacter solanacearum (Lso) in Lso-contaminated carrot seeds using different disinfection methods

  • Takashi FujikawaEmail author
  • Mariko Taguchi
  • Kazutaka Kido
  • Shintaro Kusano
  • Junichiro Enya
  • Tomohisa Mihara
  • Hisatoshi Kaku
  • Masatoshi Sato
Short Communication


Candidatus Liberibacter solanacearum (Lso) is a plant pathogenic bacterium and the causal agent of potato ‘zebra chip’ and carrot Lso diseases. Because this pathogen is suspected to be transmitted via carrot seeds, seed Lso disinfection is important for seed transportation and distribution worldwide. However, since Lso is unculturable, disinfection efficacy cannot be confirmed using bacterial culture assays. Here, we focused on Lso RNA to detect viable Lso cells in Lso-contaminated carrot seeds. Because bacterial RNA is only transcribed in living bacteria, we reasoned that non-detection of Lso RNA after seed disinfection would signify that Lso had not survived, which could be confirmed using reverse-transcription quantitative PCR. Indeed, when six culturable seed-transmitted bacterial strains were all killed by autoclaving or sodium hypochlorite treatment, neither RNA nor colony formation was detected, confirming that non-detection of RNA indicated successful sterilization. When Lso-contaminated carrot seeds were separately treated with five disinfection methods, four, including hot water treatment, resulted in non-detection of Lso RNA, even though carrot RNA was detected and the seeds germinated normally. We suggest that an RNA-based PCR assay is suitable for identifying the presence of plant pathogenic bacteria, which will be useful for screening disinfection methods for Lso-contaminated seeds.


Reverse transcription Seed disinfection Bacterium Phytosanitary 



Special thanks to the Japan Seed Trade Association (JASTA) and the International Seed Health Initiative (ISHI) Japan team for their cooperation. We are grateful to Ms. Akane Sasaki for her support in the experiments. We also thank the members of the IFTS-NARO and CSS-NARO for the helpful discussions. We would like to thank Editage ( for English language editing.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical approval

This article does not contain any studies with human participants or animals performed by any of the authors.

Supplementary material

42161_2019_405_MOESM1_ESM.pptx (105 kb)
Suppl. Fig. S1 (PPTX 105 kb)
42161_2019_405_MOESM2_ESM.docx (16 kb)
Suppl. Table 1 (DOCX 16 kb)


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Copyright information

© Società Italiana di Patologia Vegetale (S.I.Pa.V.) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institute of Fruit Tree and Tea ScienceNational Agriculture and Food Research Organization (NARO)TsukubaJapan
  2. 2.Sakata Seed CorpYokohamaJapan
  3. 3.Takii and Co., LtdKyotoJapan
  4. 4.Mikado Kyowa Seed Co., LtdMidori-kuJapan
  5. 5.The Yokohama Nursery Co., LtdYokohamaJapan
  6. 6.Center for Seeds and SeedlingsNAROTsukubaJapan

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