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Characterization of the O.ul-mS952 Intron:A Potential Molecular Marker to Distinguish Between Ophiostoma Ulmi and Ophiostoma Novo-Ulmi Subsp. Americana

Authors: Mohamed Hafez, Georg Hausner


The full length mitochondrial small subunit ribosomal (mt-rns) gene has been characterized for Ophiostoma novo-ulmi subspecies americana. The gene was also characterized for Ophiostoma ulmi and a group II intron was noted in the mt-rns gene of O. ulmi. The insertion in the mt-rns gene is at position S952 and it is a group IIB1 intron that encodes a double motif LAGLIDADG homing endonuclease from an open reading frame located within a loop of domain III. Secondary structure models for the mt-rns RNA of O. novo-ulmi subsp. americana and O. ulmi were generated to place the intron within the context of the ribosomal RNA. The in vivo splicing of the O.ul-mS952 group II intron was confirmed with reverse transcription-PCR. A survey of 182 strains of Dutch Elm Diseases causing agents showed that the mS952 intron was absent in what is considered to be the more aggressive species O. novo-ulmi but present in strains of the less aggressive O. ulmi. This observation suggests that the O.ul-mS952 intron can be used as a PCR-based molecular marker to discriminate between O. ulmi and O. novo-ulmi subsp. americana.

Keywords: Dutch Elm Disease, group II introns, mtDNA, species identification

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