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Development of a multiplex qPCR assay for the simultaneous detection of Mycoplasma bovis, Mycoplasma species, and Acholeplasma laidlawii in milk.

Abstract

Contagious bovine mastitis caused by Mycoplasma bovis and other Mycoplasma species including Mycoplasma californicum, Mycoplasma bovigenitalium, Mycoplasma alkalescens, Mycoplasma arginini, and Mycoplasma canadense is an economical obstacle affecting many dairy herds throughout California and elsewhere. Routine bacteriological culture-based assays for the pathogens are slow and subject to false-positive results due to the presence of the related, non-pathogenic species Acholeplasma laidlawii. To address the need for rapid and accurate detection methods, a new TaqMan multiplex, quantitative real-time PCR (qPCR) assay was developed that targets the 16S rRNA gene of Mycoplasma, rpoB gene of M. bovis, and the 16S to 23S rRNA intergenic transcribed spacer (ITS) region of A. laidlawii. qPCR amplification efficiency and range of detection were similar for individual assays in multiplex as when performed separately. The multiplex assay was able to distinguish between M. bovis and A. laidlawii as well as detect Mycoplasma spp. collectively, including Mycoplasma californicum, Mycoplasma bovigenitalium, Mycoplasma canadense, Mycoplasma arginini and Mycoplasma alkalescens. In milk, the lower limit of detection of M. bovis, M. californicum, and A. laidlawii with the multiplex assay was between 120 to 250 colony forming units (CFU) per mL. The assay was also able to simultaneously detect both M. bovis and A. laidlawii in milk when present in moderate (103 to 104 CFU/mL) to high (106 to 107 CFU/mL) quantities. Compared to laboratory culture-based methods, the multiplex qPCR diagnostic specificity (Sp) was 100% (95% CI [86.8-100]; n = 26) and diagnostic sensitivity (Se) was 92.3% (95% CI [74.9-99.1]; n = 26) for Mycoplasma species in milk samples collected from California dairy farms. Similarly, the Sp was 100% (95% CI [90.5-100]; n = 37) and Se was 93.3% (95% CI [68.1-99.8]; n = 15) for M. bovis. Our assay can detect and distinguish among M. bovis, other prevalent Mycoplasma spp., and non-pathogenic Acholeplasma laidlawii for effective identification and control of mycoplasma mastitis, ultimately supporting dairy cattle health and high-quality dairy products in California.

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