A multiplex real-time polymerase chain reaction assay with two internal controls for the detection of Brucella species in tissues, blood, and feces from marine mammals.

Academic Article


  • Brucellosis has emerged as a disease of concern in marine mammals in the last 2 decades. Molecular detection techniques have the potential to address limitations of other methods for detecting infection with Brucella in these species. Presented herein is a real-time polymerase chain reaction (PCR) method targeting the Brucella genus-specific bcsp31 gene. The method also includes a target to a conserved region of the eukaryotic mitochondrial 16S ribosomal RNA gene to assess suitability of extracted DNA and a plasmid-based internal control to detect failure of PCR due to inhibition. This method was optimized and validated to detect Brucella spp. in multiple sample matrices, including fresh or frozen tissue, blood, and feces. The analytical limit of detection was low, with 95% amplification at 24 fg, or an estimated 7 bacterial genomic copies. When Brucella spp. were experimentally added to tissue or fecal homogenates, the assay detected an estimated 1-5 bacteria/µl. An experiment simulating tissue autolysis showed relative persistence of bacterial DNA compared to host mitochondrial DNA. When used to screen 1,658 field-collected marine mammal tissues in comparison to microbial culture, diagnostic sensitivity and specificity were 70.4% and 98.3%, respectively. In addition to amplification in fresh and frozen tissues, Brucella spp. were detected in feces and formalin-fixed, paraffin-embedded tissues from culture-positive animals. Results indicate the utility of this real-time PCR for the detection of Brucella spp. in marine species, which may have applications in surveillance or epidemiologic investigations.
  • Authors

  • Sidor, Inga
  • Dunn, J Lawrence
  • Tsongalis, Gregory J
  • Carlson, Jolene
  • Frasca, Salvatore
  • Status

    Publication Date

  • January 2013
  • Keywords

  • Animals
  • Bottle-Nosed Dolphin
  • Brucella
  • Brucellosis
  • Cetacea
  • DNA, Bacterial
  • Feces
  • Phoca
  • Real-Time Polymerase Chain Reaction
  • Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Pubmed Id

  • 23345271
  • Start Page

  • 72
  • End Page

  • 81
  • Volume

  • 25
  • Issue

  • 1