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Mar Biotechnol (NY). 2001 Mar;3(2):152-62.

Polymerase chain reaction in detection of Gymnodinium mikimotoi and Alexandrium minutum in field samples from southwest India.

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  • 1Department of Fishery Microbiology, College of Fisheries, University of Agricultural Sciences, P.B. No 527, Mangalore-575 002, India.


Polymerase chain reaction (PCR) primers were constructed for the detection of two toxic dinoflagellate species, Gymnodinium mikimotoi and Alexandrium minutum. The primers amplified a product of expected size from cultured cells of G. mikimotoi and A. minutum. The species-specific primers targeting G. mikimotoi did not yield any product with a wide range of other cultured algae used as negative controls. Primers designed for A. minutum were species-group-specific since it PCR yielded a product from the closely related species A. ostenfeldii and A. andersonii, but not from other species of this genus tested. The confirmation of PCR products was performed by digestion of the products with restriction enzymes. Sensitivity analyses of the primers on DNA template from cultured cells was positive by PCR at a DNA template concentration of 1.5 x 10(-4) ng/microl (0.3 cells/L) for A. minutum, and at a DNA concentration of 2.5 x 10(-2) ng/microl (697 cells/L) for G. mikimotoi. The PCR method for detection of G. mikimotoi and A. minutum was applied on field samples collected with a plankton net. Gymnodinium mikimotoi could be detected in 11 field samples by microscopy, and all these field samples were positive by PCR. The cell counts of G. mikimotoi in simultaneously collected water samples ranged from 306 to 2077/L. Alexandrium minutum could be detected by microscopy in 3 different field samples. The cell counts in water samples collected at the same time as the net samples ranged from 115 to 1115 cells/L. Alexandrium minutum was detected by PCR in these field samples, with the exception of the sample displaying the lowest cell count (115 cells/L). Plankton samples that were negative by microscopy for any of the two target species were also negative by PCR. All the PCR products from field samples were confirmed by restriction enzyme digestion. The application of PCR-based detection of harmful algal bloom species for aquaculture and monitoring purposes in natural field samples is discussed.

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