Guggal is tapped for extraction of medicinally important oleo–gum–resin (guggul) by inoculating the stem bark with natural gum suspension containing pathogenic bacterium Xanthomonas axonopodis pv. commiphorae (Xac). The tree dies in the process. In absence of any specific medium for isolation of Xac, it is difficult to assess spread of the pathogen within the plant. We describe here a PCR based molecular detection technique using fyuA and rpoD gene specific primers. The primers amplified products only from Xac and not from host tissues or common saprophytes. The method was sensitive enough to produce positive signals for up to 4.4 bacterial cells or 2 pg target DNA per reaction mixture. However, PCR inhibitors present in plant tissues drastically reduced the limit of detection. A simple overnight incubation of surface sterilised plant tissues in nutrient medium was introduced to increase pathogen titre and to overcome this problem. This technique was successfully used to measure spread of Xac in plant tissues away from the site of inoculation. The pathogen showed preference for acropetal movement and did not spread to 7–8 cm below the site of inoculation till 15 days after inoculation. This suggests possibility to manage the disease through plant surgery.
- Gumming disease,
- Medicinal plant,
- Molecular epidemiology,
- Systemic infection.
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