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A sensitive FRET probe assay for the selective detection of Mycobacterium marinum in fish

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Mycobacterium marinum is the causative agent of mycobacteriosis in wild and cultured fish and of atypical infection in humans. For the diagnosis of M. marinum, cultural and traditional polymerase chain reaction (PCR) methods are currently used. However, these protocols, although able to discriminate within Mycobacterium spp., have proved to be time-consuming or difficult to carry out. For this reason, the aim of this study was to obtain a rapid and specific diagnostic tool to quantify fish Mycobacterium spp. or to discriminate M. marinum from other mycobacteria. A primary PCR amplification with SYBR Green had a detection limit (dl) of 102Mycobacterium DNA copies with a log-linear quantification range up to 104 (R2 = 0.99). The second PCR using FRET probes, flanking a region containing species specific nucleotide variations, was designed and validated with synthetic erp gene fragments corresponding to different mycobacterial species, different whole mycobacteria suspensions, experimentally infected fish tissues, tissues from experimentally infected fish, and samples of cultured fish. The results show that the FRET probes demonstrate a high specificity as the melting curve analysis allowed efficient discrimination of M. marinum from Mycobacterium chelonae, Mycobacterium fortuitum, Mycobacterium pseudoshottsii, Mycobacterium shottsii and Mycobacterium ulcerans. The kidney is the organ with the strongest detection signal and using fish tissues the method has a mean sensitivity of 50 DNA copies/PCR.

Keywords: FRET probes; Mycobacterium marinum; fish mycobacteriosis; real-time PCR

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: 1:  Fish Disease and Aquaculture Centre, IZS of Sardinia, State Veterinary Institute, Oristano, Italy 2:  DSS, DNA Sequencing Service, University of Cagliari, Cagliari, Italy 3:  Department of Pathobiology, National Centre for Mariculture, Israel Oceanographic and Limnological Research, Eilat, Israel

Publication date: 2010-01-01

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