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Potato white mold caused by Sclerotinia sclerotiorum is an important plant disease occurring in many potato-producing areas throughout the world. In this study, a specific diagnostic method was used to detect and quantify S. sclerotiorum ascospores, and its forecasting ability was assessed in potato fields during flowering periods of 2011 to 2014 in Bahar County, Hamedan Province. Using GenEMBL database, a primer pair, HZSCREV and HZSCFOR, was designed and optimized for the pathogen. After testing the sensitivity of primers, DNA was extracted from samples of outdoor Burkard traps from potato fields. A linear association was observed between pathogen DNA and the number of ascospores using the quantitative PCR (qPCR) technique in the presence of SYBR dye. The qPCR could successfully detect DNA amounts representing two S. sclerotiorum ascospores and was not sensitive to a variety of tested fungi such as Botrytis cinerea, Alternaria brassicae, Fusarium solani. In contrast to the amount of rainfall, a direct relationship was found between ascospore numbers and the incidence of potato white mold from 2011 to 2014.
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