Murdoch University Research Repository

Welcome to the Murdoch University Research Repository

The Murdoch University Research Repository is an open access digital collection of research
created by Murdoch University staff, researchers and postgraduate students.

Learn more

Persistence and degradation of Phytophthora cinnamomi DNA and RNA in different soil types

Kunadiya, M.B., Burgess, T.I.ORCID: 0000-0002-7962-219X, Dunstan, W., White, D. and Hardy, G.E.St.J. (2020) Persistence and degradation of Phytophthora cinnamomi DNA and RNA in different soil types. Environmental DNA . In Press.

PDF - Published Version
Download (1MB) | Preview
Free to read:
*No subscription required


DNA and RNA detected in soil using molecular techniques may originate from a living or dead organism. It is therefore of interest to know how long the DNA and RNA from a decaying organism can persist in soil, and how environmental conditions such as soil temperature, moisture, and microbial populations impact on the survival time. This study determined the difference between the persistence of Phytophthora cinnamomi mRNA and DNA in different soil types. DNA and RNA were extracted from P. cinnamomi and 10 ng/250 mg of soil was applied to five different soil types that were either air‐dried or maintained at 70% field capacity. The persistence of DNA at 20°C was tested after intervals of 0, 3, 7, 14, 90, 241, and 378 days, and for RNA at 0, 1, 3, and 7 days using qPCR and RT‐qPCR techniques, respectively. Persistence was longer in dry than moist soil, P. cinnamomi DNA could be readily detected in dry soil conditions for up to 90 days and was found at extremely low levels at 241 and 378 days. RNA was detected only on day 1, except for dry river sand, and moist sandy loam in which it persisted for 3 days; it was not detected after seven days. These results confirm that RNA degrades very quickly, making it a valuable tool for determining the presence of viable Phytophthora in soil. In contrast, DNA can be remarkably stable in some environments, and positive results could be obtained even after the death of the organism for a year or more prior to the test. For diagnostics, the use of an RNA‐based test avoids the possibility of such false positive results. In the context of the research project, this study is relevant to determining how long viable Phytophthora remains in soil after the eradication protocols have been instigated. In a broader context, the persistence of DNA is relevant to any study using environmental DNA for diagnostics or for metabarcoding when undertaking community ecology or microbiome studies. These results are relevant for studies using detection of P. cinnamomi nucleic acids in soils for purposes of diagnostics, ecological research, or projects on eradication.

Item Type: Journal Article
Murdoch Affiliation(s): Environmental and Conservation Sciences
Centre for Phytophthora Science and Management
Harry Butler Institute
Centre for Climate-Impacted Terrestrial Ecosystems
Publisher: John Wiley & Sons Ltd
Copyright: © 2020 The Authors
Item Control Page Item Control Page


Downloads per month over past year