Open Access Highly Accessed Open Badges Methodology article

Rapid identification and quantification of Campylobacter coli and Campylobacter jejuni by real-time PCR in pure cultures and in complex samples

Mily Leblanc-Maridor12*, François Beaudeau12, Henri Seegers12, Martine Denis3 and Catherine Belloc12

Author affiliations

1 LUNAM Université, Oniris, UMR 1300 Biologie, épidémiologie et analyse des risques, Nantes, F-44307, France

2 INRA, Nantes, F-44307, France

3 Anses, French Agency for Food, Environmental and occupational Health and Safety, Unité Hygiène et Qualité des Produits Avicoles et Porcins, BP 53, Ploufragan, F-22440, France

For all author emails, please log on.

Citation and License

BMC Microbiology 2011, 11:113  doi:10.1186/1471-2180-11-113

Published: 22 May 2011



Campylobacter spp., especially Campylobacter jejuni (C. jejuni) and Campylobacter coli (C. coli), are recognized as the leading human foodborne pathogens in developed countries. Livestock animals carrying Campylobacter pose an important risk for human contamination. Pigs are known to be frequently colonized with Campylobacter, especially C. coli, and to excrete high numbers of this pathogen in their faeces. Molecular tools, notably real-time PCR, provide an effective, rapid, and sensitive alternative to culture-based methods for the detection of C. coli and C. jejuni in various substrates. In order to serve as a diagnostic tool supporting Campylobacter epidemiology, we developed a quantitative real-time PCR method for species-specific detection and quantification of C. coli and C. jejuni directly in faecal, feed, and environmental samples.


With a sensitivity of 10 genome copies and a linear range of seven to eight orders of magnitude, the C. coli and C. jejuni real-time PCR assays allowed a precise quantification of purified DNA from C. coli and C. jejuni. The assays were highly specific and showed a 6-log-linear dynamic range of quantification with a quantitative detection limit of approximately 2.5 × 102 CFU/g of faeces, 1.3 × 102 CFU/g of feed, and 1.0 × 103 CFU/m2 for the environmental samples. Compared to the results obtained by culture, both C. coli and C. jejuni real-time PCR assays exhibited a specificity of 96.2% with a kappa of 0.94 and 0.89 respectively. For faecal samples of experimentally infected pigs, the coefficients of correlation between the C. coli or C. jejuni real-time PCR assay and culture enumeration were R2 = 0.90 and R2 = 0.93 respectively.


The C. coli and C. jejuni real-time quantitative PCR assays developed in this study provide a method capable of directly detecting and quantifying C. coli and C. jejuni in faeces, feed, and environmental samples. These assays represent a new diagnostic tool for studying the epidemiology of Campylobacter by, for instance, investigating the carriage and excretion of C. coli and C. jejuni by pigs from conventional herds.