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Appl Environ Microbiol. 2004 Dec;70(12):7295-302.

Detection and quantification of Wallemia sebi in aerosols by real-time PCR, conventional PCR, and cultivation.

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  • 1National Institute for Working Life, SE-90713 Umeå, Sweden.


Wallemia sebi is a deuteromycete fungus commonly found in agricultural environments in many parts of the world and is suspected to be a causative agent of farmer's lung disease. The fungus grows slowly on commonly used culture media and is often obscured by the fast-growing fungi. Thus, its occurrence in different environments has often been underestimated. In this study, we developed two sets of PCR primers specific to W. sebi that can be applied in either conventional PCR or real-time PCR for rapid detection and quantification of the fungus in environmental samples. Both PCR systems proved to be highly specific and sensitive for W. sebi detection even in a high background of other fungal DNAs. These methods were employed to investigate the presence of W. sebi in the aerosols of a farm. The results revealed a high concentration of W. sebi spores, 10(7) m(-3) by real-time PCR and 10(6) m(-3) by cultivation, which indicates the prevalence of W. sebi in farms handling hay and grain and in cow barns. The methods developed in this study could serve as rapid, specific, and sensitive means of detecting W. sebi in aerosol and surface samples and could thus facilitate investigations of its distribution, ecology, clinical diagnosis, and exposure risk assessment.

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