DAO 62:75-83 (2004)  -  doi:10.3354/dao062075

Species-specific polymerase chain reaction primer sets for the diagnosis of Tenacibaculum maritimum infection

Rubén Avendaño-Herrera, Beatriz Magariños, Alicia E. Toranzo, Roxana Beaz, Jesús L. Romalde*

Departamento de Microbiología y Parasitología, Facultad de Biología, Universidad de Santiago, 15782 Santiago de Compostela, Spain
*Corresponding author. Email:

ABSTRACT: In this study the specificity and sensitivity of 2 primer pairs, MAR1–MAR2 and Mar1– Mar2, for the detection of Tenacibaculum maritimum were evaluated in parallel using 79 T. maritimum strains isolated from different fish species, as well as 53 representatives of related and unrelated bacterial species. Both primer pairs were species-specific for T. maritimum, since no amplification products were obtained from chromosomal DNA of the non-T. maritimum bacteria tested. However, whereas MAR1–MAR2 identified all the T. maritimum strains studied, producing a unique and clear PCR band of the expected 1088 bp length, the Mar1–Mar2 primer pair failed to amplify the 400 bp specific band in 3 sole isolates. To verify if these strains belonged to T. maritimum species, 2 endonucleases (PvuI and SacII) were selected as the most adequate enzymes to confirm the specificity of the MAR1–MAR2 amplified fragment. The digestion patterns obtained with both endonucleases supported the assignation of all the strains to T. maritimum. The sensitivity of both PCR detection methods was also different, showing a reduction of sensitivity in at least one order of magnitude of the Mar1–Mar2 primer pair in comparison with MAR1–MAR2. When the MAR–MAR2 PCR protocol was applied to different seeded turbot tissues, the detection limit was 102 to 104 T. maritimum cells per reaction. In addition, a nested PCR protocol for detection of this pathogens based on MAR1–MAR2 was developed, which increased the sensitivity by approximately 2 orders of magnitude, ranging from 1 to 250 T. maritimum cells per reaction depending on the tissue employed. The tissues that allowed the most easy detection of T. maritimum were the skin and mucus. Based on the findings reported here, we propose the nested PCR protocol as the most adequate for an accurate detection of T. maritimum in diagnostic pathology as well as in epidemiological studies of gliding bacterial disease of marine fish.


KEY WORDS: Tenacibaculosis · Tenacibaculum maritimum · Nested-PCR · Diagnosis


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