Email updates

Keep up to date with the latest news and content from BMC Research Notes and BioMed Central.

Open Access Highly Accessed Short Report

Enumeration of Mycobacterium avium subsp. paratuberculosis by quantitative real-time PCR, culture on solid media and optical densitometry

Petr Kralik*, Vladimir Beran and Ivo Pavlik

Author Affiliations

Veterinary Research Institute, Hudcova 70, 621 00 Brno, Czech Republic

For all author emails, please log on.

BMC Research Notes 2012, 5:114  doi:10.1186/1756-0500-5-114

Published: 22 February 2012



Different approaches are used for determining the number of Mycobacterium avium subsp. paratuberculosis (MAP) cells in a suspension. The majority of them are based upon culture (determination of CFU) or visual/instrumental direct counting of MAP cells. In this study, we have compared the culture method with a previously published F57 based quantitative real-time PCR (F57qPCR) method, to determine their relative abilities to count the number of three different MAP isolates in suspensions with the same optical densities (OD). McFarland turbidity standards were also compared with F57qPCR and culture, due to its frequent inclusion and use in MAP studies.


The numbers of MAP in two-fold serial dilutions of isolates with respective OD measurements were determined by F57qPCR and culture. It was found that culture provided lower MAP CFU counts by approximately two log10, compared to F57qPCR. The McFarland standards (as defined for E. coli) showed an almost perfect fit with the enumeration of MAP performed by F57qPCR.


It is recommended to use culture and/or qPCR estimations of MAP numbers in experiments where all subsequent counts are performed using the same method. It is certainly not recommended the use of culture as the standard for qPCR experiments and vice versa.