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Diseases of Aquatic Organisms

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DAO 80:81-83 (2008)  -  DOI:

Misuse of PCR assay for diagnosis of mollusc protistan infections

Eugene M. Burreson*

Virginia Institute of Marine Science, College of William and Mary, Gloucester Point, Virginia 23062, USA

ABSTRACT: Polymerase chain reaction (PCR) assays are useful tools for pathogen surveillance, but they are only proxy indications of pathogen presence in that they detect a DNA sequence. To be useful for detection of actual infections, PCR assays must be thoroughly tested for sensitivity and specificity, and ultimately validated against a technique, typically histology, which allows visualization of the parasite in host tissues. There is growing use of PCR assays for pathogen surveillance, but too often the assumption is made that a positive PCR result verifies an infection in a tested host. This assumption is valid only if the assay has been properly validated for the geographic area and for the hosts examined. Researchers should interpret unvalidated PCR assay results with caution, and editors and reviewers should insist that robust validations support all assertions that PCR results confirm infections.

KEY WORDS: PCR assay · Validation · Histology · In situ hybridization · Marteilia · Haplosporidium

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Cite this article as: Burreson EM (2008) Misuse of PCR assay for diagnosis of mollusc protistan infections. Dis Aquat Org 80:81-83.

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