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Can J Vet Res. 1997 Jan;61(1):15-20.

A polymerase chain reaction assay for the detection of Leptospira spp. in bovine semen.

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Animal Diseases Research Institute, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, Lethbridge, Alberta.


A rapid and specific method for the detection of pathogenic Leptospira spp. in bovine semen using the polymerase chain reaction (PCR) is described. The primers used were derived from an EcoR1/BamH1 fragment that hybridized strongly to chromosomal DNA from the hardjobovis serovar. Three different extraction methods were evaluated in this study: phenol-chloroform extraction method, proteinase K (PK) in 1% SDS, followed by phenol-chloroform, and phenol-chloroform followed by 1% cetyltrimethylammonium bromide (CTAB). A PCR product of approximately 500 base pairs (bp) in length was obtained when DNA from pure Leptospira culture was used as a template for PCR, regardless of the DNA extraction method used. The product was consistent with that predicted from the gene sequence. However, in semen seeded in vitro, as well as in semen from infected bulls, a PCR product was obtained only when the leptospiral DNA was extracted from the specimen using the CTAB method. In contrast, other methods used for DNA extraction did not generate suitable templates for the PCR procedure. This is the first PCR protocol developed to detect Leptospira in bovine semen. The PCR protocol provided a direct and unequivocal demonstration that Leptospira can be detected in semen of infected animals. The CTAB method was also used successfully in detecting Leptospira in the urine of infected animals. The PCR procedure was shown to be more sensitive than either the fluorescent antibody test (FAT) or culture for detecting the organism in urine.

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