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Open Access Highly Accessed Methodology article

Reliable detection of Bacillus anthracis, Francisella tularensis and Yersinia pestis by using multiplex qPCR including internal controls for nucleic acid extraction and amplification

Ingmar Janse*, Raditijo A Hamidjaja, Jasper M Bok and Bart J van Rotterdam

Author Affiliations

National Institute for Public Health and the Environment, Laboratory for Zoonoses and Environmental Microbiology, Anthonie van Leeuwenhoeklaan 9, 3721 MA Bilthoven, The Netherlands

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BMC Microbiology 2010, 10:314  doi:10.1186/1471-2180-10-314

Published: 8 December 2010

Abstract

Background

Several pathogens could seriously affect public health if not recognized timely. To reduce the impact of such highly pathogenic micro-organisms, rapid and accurate diagnostic tools are needed for their detection in various samples, including environmental samples.

Results

Multiplex real-time PCRs were designed for rapid and reliable detection of three major pathogens that have the potential to cause high morbidity and mortality in humans: B. anthracis, F. tularensis and Y. pestis. The developed assays detect three pathogen-specific targets, including at least one chromosomal target, and one target from B. thuringiensis which is used as an internal control for nucleic acid extraction from refractory spores as well as successful DNA amplification. Validation of the PCRs showed a high analytical sensitivity, specificity and coverage of diverse pathogen strains.

Conclusions

The multiplex qPCR assays that were developed allow the rapid detection of 3 pathogen-specific targets simultaneously, without compromising sensitivity. The application of B. thuringiensis spores as internal controls further reduces false negative results. This ensures highly reliable detection, while template consumption and laboratory effort are kept at a minimum