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Development of recombinase polymerase amplification-based colorimetric detection assay for rapid identification of invasive cassava mealybug, Phenacoccus manihoti Matile-Ferrero.

Phenacoccus manihoti Matile-Ferrero (Hemiptera: Pseudococcidae), is an economically important invasive cassava pest responsible for the massive devastation of cassava in Asia and African continent. Initially, identifying this invasive pest posed challenges because it closely resembled native mealybug species. Additionally, the traditional morphological identification process is labor-intensive and time-consuming. Detecting invasive pests at an early stage is crucial, hence development of a rapid detection assay is essential. In the current study, we have developed a simple, rapid, sensitive, and efficient molecular detection assay for P. manihoti based on Recombinase Polymerase Amplification (RPA). The primers for the RPA assay were designed using unique nucleic acid sequences of P. manihoti , and the protocol was standardized. Specificity test demonstrated that the RPA assay could amplify DNA of P. manihoti only, and no amplification was observed in six other mealybug species. The specificity of assay was confirmed using SYBR green-based colorimetric detection and gel electrophoresis where positive samples showed 195 bp amplicon size in P . manihoti samples. The assay successfully amplified P. manihoti DNA in thirty minutes at an annealing temperature of 41° C in a water bath and displayed a sensitivity of 72.5 picograms per microliter. The assay's simplicity, rapidity, and high sensitivity make it a valuable tool for detecting and monitoring P. manihoti in quarantine stations and facilitating in development of a portable diagnostic kit.

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