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Diseases of Aquatic Organisms

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DAO 53:15-23 (2003)  -  doi:10.3354/dao053015

Molecular detection methods developed for a systemic rickettsia-like bacterium (RLB) in Penaeus monodon (Decapoda: Crustacea)

Linda M. Nunan1,*, Bonnie Poulos1, Rita Redman1, Marc Le Groumellec2, Donald V. Lightner1

1Department of Veterinary Sciences and Microbiology, University of Arizona, Tucson, Arizona 85721, USA
2AQUALMA, Aquaculture de la Mahajamba, Mahajanga 401, Madagascar

ABSTRACT: Molecular detection methods were developed to aid in the diagnosis of a rickettsia-like bacterium (RLB) which caused severe mortalities of farm-raised Penaeus monodon in Madagascar. Using primers derived from the 16S rRNA gene of bacteria, a PCR assay was optimized to amplify this region of the genome of the RLB, using extracted DNA from infected P. monodon tissue as the template. The resulting amplified PCR product was sequenced and 2 novel primers were selected from the variable region of the gene. These primers amplified a 532 bp fragment of DNA originating from the rickettsia-infected samples. The PCR assay was optimized and tested on DNA extracted from specific pathogen-free (SPF) P. vannamei tissue and several other strains of bacteria. The PCR assay with the rickettsia-specific primers was specific for this RLB and did not amplify the other DNA samples tested. The 532 bp PCR-amplified fragment was labeled with digoxigenin (DIG) for in situ hybridization assays. This probe was tested on SPF, RLB and bacteria-infected shrimp specimens preserved in Davidson¹s fixative. The probe was specific for both natural and experimental rickettsial infections. Hybridization with this probe required a stringent temperature of 65°C, otherwise cross-reactivity was observed with other types of bacteria.

KEY WORDS: Rickettsia · Penaeus monodon · Shrimp · Crustacea

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