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J Gen Appl Microbiol. 2007 Aug;53(4):229-37.

Application of duplex-PCR in rapid and reliable detection of toxigenic Vibrio cholerae in water samples in Thailand.

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Department of Microbiology, Faculty of Medicine, Khon Kaen University, Thailand.


Toxigenic Vibrio cholerae, the cause of cholera, is a native flora of the aquatic environment which is transmitted through drinking water and still remains the leading cause of morbidity and mortality in many developing countries including Thailand. The culture method (CM), which is routinely used for assessing water quality, has not proven as efficient as molecular methods because the notorious pathogen survives in water mostly in a non-culturable state. We employed duplex-polymerase chain reaction (duplex-PCR) for detection of tcpA and ctxA genes in toxigenic V. cholerae, and compared PCR detection with CM in various waters of Khon Kaen Municipality, Thailand. We also evaluated the effect of different pre-PCR conditions on the results of ctxA and tcpA detection including: 1) water filtered and enriched in alkaline peptone water (APW) for 3 h before PCR, 2) water filtered without enrichment before PCR, and 3) use of only enrichment in APW for 6 h before PCR. Of the 96 water samples (taken from waste-water, potable and waste-water from patients' houses, and from rivers) tested, 48 (50%) were positive for ctxA and tcpA by duplex-PCR, whereas only 29 (30%) were positive for V. cholerae by CM. Of the 29 V. cholerae isolated by CM, 2 (7%) were toxigenic V. cholerae belonging to serovar O1, while the rests were non-O1/ non-O139. Results revealed, therefore, that ctxA and tcpA-targeted duplex PCR is more sensitive than CM for detection of toxigenic V. cholerae from water samples because CM detected much less toxigenic V. cholerae than the non-toxigenic V. cholerae. Template DNA as low as 100 fg or 23 cells of V. cholerae in the water sample was detected in duplex PCR. Pre-PCR filtration followed by enrichment for 3 h significantly increase in the efficiency of duplex-PCR detection of toxigenic V. cholerae.

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