Four generic Mycoplasma gallisepticum (MG) polymerase chain reactions (PCRs) (16S rRNA PCR, three newly developed PCR methods that target surface protein genes [mgc2, LP (nested) and gapA (nested)]) were compared for analytical specificity and sensitivity and for diagnostic sensitivity (Se) and specificity of detection from tracheal swabs. The licensed MG DNA Test Kit Flock Chek test (IDEXX, Laboratories, Inc., Westbrook, ME) was as well evaluated for the diagnostic specificity and sensitivity of detection from tracheal swabs. Analytical specificity was evaluated for the four generic PCR methods using a panel of DNA samples from microorganisms that may be isolated from the trachea of commercial poultry and other fowl. PCR methods mgc2, nLP, and ngapA only amplified DNA from MG, whereas 16S rRNA PCR amplified DNA from MG and Mycoplasma imitans. The analytical sensitivity of the four generic PCR methods expressed in color-changing units (CCU)/amplification reaction was estimated for each PCR method and ranged from 4 to 400 CCU/reaction; the sensitivities of single PCR methods 16S rRNA and mgc2 were estimated at 40 CCU/reaction, the nLP at 400 CCU/reaction, and the ngapA at 4 CCU/reaction. The diagnostic sensitivity and specificity of MG detection from tracheal swab pools, as compared to isolation from choanal cleft swabs, was evaluated for the five PCR methods using three groups of birds exposed to vaccine strains ts-11 and 6/85 and to challenge strain R. All PCR methods were able to detect the vaccine strains and the challenge strain R directly from tracheal swabs, indicating that PCR primers from the different methods amplified divergent MG strains. Isolation and PCR results correlated satisfactorily among the three experimentally infected groups, with agreement values (k) ranging from 0.52 to 1.00. The ngapA, IDEXX, and mgc2 PCRs showed the best sensitivity (Se) ratios for detection of M. gallisepticum strains as compared to isolation. Compared to the ngapA and IDEXX PCR methods, the mgc2 PCR has a faster turnaround time, since this test consists of a single amplification reaction and the amplification product is detected by gel electrophoresis. Therefore, among the PCR methods evaluated in this study, the mgc2 PCR is the method of choice to further validate in the field.
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Vol. 49 • No. 1