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An Improved Detection and Quantification Method for the Coral Pathogen Vibrio coralliilyticus

Public Library of Science
Publication Date
DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0081800
  • Research Article
  • Ecology
  • Geography
  • Medicine


DNA- and RNA-based PCR and reverse-transcription real-time PCR assays were developed for diagnostic detection of the vcpA zinc-metalloprotease implicated in the virulence of the coral pathogen Vibrio coralliilyticus. Both PCR methods were highly specific for V. coralliilyticus and failed to amplify strains of closely-related Vibrio species. The assays correctly detected all globally occurring V. coralliilyticus isolates including a newly-described isolate [TAV24] infecting gorgonians in the Mediterranean Sea and highlighted those isolates that had been potentially misidentified, in particular V. tubiashii strains ATCC 19105 and RE22, historically described as important oyster pathogens. The real-time assay is sensitive, detecting 10 gene copies and the relationships between gene copy number and cycle threshold (CT) were highly linear (R2≥99.7). The real-time assay was also not affected by interference from non-target DNA. These assays are useful for rapid detection of V. coralliilyticus and monitoring of virulence levels in environmental samples, allowing for implementation of timely management steps to limit and possibly prevent losses due to V. coralliilyticus infection, as well as furthering investigations of factors affecting pathogenesis of this important marine pathogen.

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