PCR amplification and sequence analyses of reverse transcriptase-like genes in Crinipellis perniciosa isolates

Reverse transcriptase (RT) sequence analysis is an important technique used to detect the presence of transposable elements in a genome. Putative RT sequences were analyzed in the genome of the pathogenic fungus C. perniciosa, the causal agent of witches’ broom disease of cocoa. A 394 bp fragment was amplified from genomic DNA of different isolates of C. perniciosa belonging to C-, L-, and S-biotypes and collected from various geographical areas. The cleavage of PCR products with restriction enzymes and the sequencing of various RT fragments indicated the presence of several sequences showing transition events (G:C to A:T). Southern blot analysis revealed high copy numbers of RT signals, forming different patterns among C-, S-, and L-biotype isolates. Sequence comparisons of the predicted RT peptide indicate a close relationship with the RT protein from the gypsy family of LTR-retrotransposons. The possible role of these retrotransposons in generating genetic variability in the homothallic C. perniciosa is discussed. Additional keywords: genetic variability, transposable elements, witches’ broom, Theobroma cacao.

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