The level of embryonation influences detection of Ostertagia ostertagi eggs by semi-quantitative PCR

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Background The Internal Transcribed Spacer 2 (ITS2) is a candidate diagnostic marker of the pathogenic cattle nematode Ostertagia ostertagi. The aims of this study were: (i) to document and quantify how the development of O. ostertagi eggs affects ITS2 copies under different storage conditions, and (ii) to suggest optimal storage conditions for faecal samples in a diagnostic pipeline that involves detection and semi-quantification by real-time semi-quantitative polymerase chain reaction (qPCR). Findings Eggs of Ostertagia ostertagi were obtained from fresh faeces and stored at 4 °C or 25 °C under aerobic or anaerobic (vacuum packing) conditions. Development was monitored by microscopy for up to 336 h, and the ITS2 copies were determined by qPCR from a fixed number of parasites. Under aerobic conditions at 25 °C, embryonation and a significant increase of ITS2 copies (P < 0.0001) were observed after 12 h. At 4 °C, embryonation occurred after 168 h with a trend towards increased ITS2 copies. Anaerobic conditions inhibited egg development at both temperatures and no significant increase in ITS2 copies was noticed (P = 0.90). ITS2 copies were analysed for each parasite stage: first-stage larvae (L1) exhibited significantly higher copy numbers (20,353 ± 1,950) than unembryonated eggs (568 ± 168; P < 0.0001) with lower coefficient of variation (33 vs 266 %). Conclusions Aerobic storage of O. ostertagi eggs at 25 °C led to a significant increase in ITS2 copies after 12 h due to embryonation and subsequent hatching. In contrast, anaerobic storage (vacuum packing) at 25 °C completely inhibited egg development and any undesirable semi-quantification bias for up to 336 h. Hence, vacuum packing is an optimal storage strategy prior to molecular diagnostic analyses. Alternatively, aerobic storage at 4 °C for up to 72 h can be used. Due to high copy numbers and lower genetic variation, the L1 stage may be considered for diagnostics and further molecular research.
TidsskriftParasites & Vectors
Antal sider8
StatusUdgivet - 29 jun. 2016

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