Detection of multipleMycoplasma species in bulk tank milk samples using real-time PCR andconventional culture and comparison of test sensitivities

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Journal of Dairy Science





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Mycoplasma spp. are a major cause of mastitis, arthritis and pneumonia in cattle, and have been associated with reproductive disorders in cows. While culture is the traditional method of identification the use of PCR has become more common. Several investigators have developed PCR protocols to detect M. bovis in milk, yet few studies have evaluated other sample types or other important Mycoplasma species. Therefore the objective of this study was to develop a multiplex PCR assay to detect M. bovis, M. californicum and M. bovigenitalium, and evaluate its analytical performance against traditional culture of bovine milk, semen and swab samples. The PCR specificity was determined and the limit of detection evaluated in spiked milk, semen and swabs. The PCR was then compared to culture on 474 field samples from individual milk, bulk tank milk (BTM), semen and swab (vaginal, preputial, nose and eye) samples. Specificity analysis produced appropriate amplification for all M. bovis, M. californicum and M. bovigenitalium isolates. Amplification was not seen for any of the other Mollicutes or eubacterial isolates. The limit of detection of the PCR was best in milk, followed by semen and swabs. When all three Mycoplasma species were present in a sample, the limit of detection increased. When comparing culture and PCR, overall there was no significant difference in the proportion of culture and PCR positive samples. Culture could detect significantly more positive swab samples. No significant differences were identified for semen, individual milk or BTM samples. PCR identified five samples with two species present. Culture followed by 16S-23S rRNA sequencing did not enable identification of more than one species. Therefore, the superior method for identification of M. bovis, M. californicum and M. bovigenitalium may be dependent on the sample type being analysed, and whether the identification of multiple target species is required.


J Dy Sci 94:3411-3419, 2011