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Vet Microbiol. 2012 Mar 23;155(2-4):332-40. doi: 10.1016/j.vetmic.2011.08.033. Epub 2011 Sep 3.

Rapid identification of bovine mastitis pathogens by high-resolution melt analysis of 16S rDNA sequences.

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Department of Production Animal Health, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, University of Calgary, Calgary, Alberta, Canada.


Accurate identification of mastitis pathogens is often compromised when using conventional culture-based methods. Here, we report a novel, rapid assay tested for speciation of bacterial mastitis pathogens using high-resolution melt analysis (HRMA) of 16S rDNA sequences. Real-time PCR amplification of 16S rRNA gene fragment, spanning the variable region V5 and V6 was performed with a resulting amplicon of 290bp. First, a library was generated of melt curves of 9 common pathogens that are implicated in bovine mastitis. Six of the isolates, Escherichia coli, Streptococcus agalactiae, Klebsiella pneumoniae, Streptococcus uberis, Staphylococcus aureus and Mycoplasma bovis, were type strains while the other 3, Arcanobacterium pyogenes, Corynebacterium bovis and Streptococcus dysgalactiae, were bovine mastitis field isolates. Four of the type strains, E. coli, S. agalactiae, K. pneumoniae and S. aureus, were found to be of human origin, while the other 3 type strains were isolated from bovine infections. Secondly, the melt curves and corresponding amplicon sequences of A. pyogenes, E. coli, S. agalactiae, S. dysgalactiae, K. pneumoniae, S. uberis and S. aureus were compared with 10 bovine mastitis field isolates of each pathogen. Based on the distinct differences in melt curves and sequences between human and bovine isolates of E. coli and K. pneumoniae, it was deemed necessary to select a set of bovine strains for these pathogens to be used as reference strains in the HRMA. Next, the HRMA was validated by three interpreters analyzing the differential clustering pattern of melt curves of 60 bacterial cultures obtained from mastitis milk samples. The three test interpreters were blinded to the culture and sequencing results of the isolates. Overall accuracy of the validation assay was 95% as there was difficulty in identifying the streptococci due to heterogeneity observed in the PCR amplicons of S. uberis. The present study revealed that broad-range real-time PCR with HRMA can be used as a powerful, fast and low-cost tool for the differentiation of clinically important bacterial mastitis pathogens.

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