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Diseases of Aquatic Organisms

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DAO 148:127-144 (2022)  -  DOI: https://doi.org/10.3354/dao03648

Keeping up with advances in qPCR pathogen detection: an example for QPX disease in hard clams

Sabrina Geraci-Yee, Bassem Allam*, Jackie L. Collier

School of Marine and Atmospheric Sciences, Stony Brook University, Stony Brook, New York 11794-5000, USA
*Corresponding author:

ABSTRACT: With marine diseases on the rise and increased reliance on molecular tools for disease surveillance, validated pathogen detection capabilities are important for effective management, mitigation, and response to disease outbreaks. At the same time, in an era of continual evolution and advancement of molecular tools for pathogen detection, it is critical to regularly reassess previously established assays to incorporate improvements of common practices and procedures, such as the minimum information for publication of quantitative real-time PCR experiments (MIQE) guidelines. Here, we reassessed, re-optimized, and improved the quantitative PCR (qPCR) assay routinely used for Quahog Parasite Unknown (QPX) disease monitoring. We made 19 significant changes to the qPCR assay, including improvements to PCR amplification efficiency, DNA extraction efficiency, inhibition testing, incorporation of linearized standards for absolute quantification, an inter-plate calibration technique, and improved conversion from copy number to number of cells. These changes made the assay a more effective and efficient tool for disease monitoring and pathogen detection, with an improved linear relationship with histopathology compared to the previous version of the assay. To support the wide adoption of validated qPCR assays for marine pathogens, we provide a simple workflow that can be applied to the development of new assays, re-optimization of old or suboptimal assays, or assay validation after changes to the protocol and a MIQE-compliant checklist that should accompany any published qPCR diagnostic assay to increase experimental transparency and reproducibility amongst laboratories.


KEY WORDS: Quantitative PCR · qPCR · Quahog Parasite Unknown · QPX · Mucochytrium quahogii · Mercenaria mercenaria · MIQE · Diagnostic assays · Pathology · Absolute quantification


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Cite this article as: Geraci-Yee S, Allam B, Collier JL (2022) Keeping up with advances in qPCR pathogen detection: an example for QPX disease in hard clams. Dis Aquat Org 148:127-144. https://doi.org/10.3354/dao03648

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