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Molecular genetic methods for the diagnosis of fastidious microorganisms

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Fenollar F, Raoult D. Molecular genetic methods for the diagnosis of fastidious microorganisms. APMIS 2004;112:785–807.

Technological innovations in the detection and identification of microorganisms using molecular techniques such as polymerase chain reaction (PCR) have ushered in a new era with respect to diagnostic microbiology. PCR using universal or specific primers followed by identification of amplified product, mainly by sequencing, has enabled the rapid identification of cultured or uncultured bacteria. Thus, PCR may allow quick diagnosis of infections caused by fastidious pathogens for which culture could be extremely difficult. However, several pitfalls, such as false positives, have been observed with PCR, underlining the necessity to interpret the results obtained with caution. At present, certain improvements in the molecular genetic methods may be helpful for the diagnosis of infectious diseases. Indeed, the recent development of bacterial genome sequencing has provided an important source of potential targets for PCR, allowing rational choice of primers for diagnosis and genotyping. In addition, the development of new techniques such as real-time PCR offers several advantages in comparison to conventional PCR, including speed, simplicity, reproducibility, quantitative capability and low risk of contamination. Herein, we review the general principles of PCR-based diagnosis and molecular genetic methods for the diagnosis of several hard-to-culture bacteria, such as Rickettsia spp., Ehrlichia spp., Coxiella burnetii, Bartonella spp., Tropheryma whipplei and Yersinia pestis.
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Keywords: Bartonella spp; Coxiella burnetii; Ehrlichia spp; PCR; Rickettsia spp; Tropheryma whipplei; Yersinia pestis; molecular diagnosis

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Unité des Rickettsies, Faculté de Médecine, Université de la Méditerranée, Marseille, France

Publication date: 01 December 2004

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