Development and application of a quantitative PCR detection method to quantify venturia oleaginea in asymptomatic olive (Olea europaea) leaves

Silvia Scibetta, Giovanni E. Agosteo, Ahmed Abdelfattah, Maria G. Li Destri Nicosia, Santa O. Cacciola, Leonardo Schena*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Olive leaf spot (OLS), caused by Venturia oleaginea, is one of the most common and serious diseases of olive trees in the Mediterranean region. Understanding the pathogen life cycle is important for the development of effective control strategies. Current knowledge is incomplete owing to a lack of effective detection methods. It is extremely difficult to culture V. oleaginea in vitro, so primers were designed to amplify and sequence the internal transcribed spacer ITS1-5.8S-ITS2 region of the fungus directly from infected olive leaves. Sanger sequencing indicated a unique ITS region present in the European strains screened, confirming the appropriateness of the target region for developing a quantitative PCR (qPCR) assay. Furthermore, high-throughput sequencing of the same region excluded the presence of other Venturia species in the olive phyllosphere. The qPCR assay proved very specific and sensitive, enabling the detection of approximately 26 copies of target DNA. The analysis of symptomless leaves during early stages of the epidemic from the end of winter through spring revealed a similar quantity of pathogen DNA regardless of the leaf growth stage. In contrast, the pathogen titer changed significantly during the season. Data indicated that leaf infections start earlier than expected over the season and very young leaves are as susceptible as adult leaves. These findings have important practical implications and suggest the need for improved scheduling of fungicide treatments. The qPCR assay represents a valuable tool providing quantitative results and enables detection of V. oleaginea in all olive organs, including those in which OLS cannot be studied using previously available methods.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)547-555
Number of pages9
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2020


  • Amplicon metagenomics
  • Disease control and pest management
  • Latent infections
  • Molecular detection
  • Mycology
  • Olive leaf spot
  • Olive scab
  • Peacock's eye disease
  • Quantitative PCR
  • Techniques

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Agronomy and Crop Science
  • Plant Science


Dive into the research topics of 'Development and application of a quantitative PCR detection method to quantify venturia oleaginea in asymptomatic olive (Olea europaea) leaves'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this