Sanders, J.L., and Kent, M.L. (2011) Development of a sensitive assay for the detection of Pseudoloma neurophilia in laboratory populations of the zebrafish Danio rerio. Diseases of aquatic organisms. 96(2):145-156.
The zebrafish Danio rerio is an increasingly important biological model in many areas of research. Due to the potential for non-protocol-induced variation, diseases of zebrafish, especially those resulting in chronic, sub-lethal infections, are of great concern. The microsporidium Pseudoloma neurophilia is a common parasite of laboratory zebrafish. Current methods for detection of this parasite require lethal sampling of fish, which is often undesirable with poorly spawning mutant lines and small populations. We present here an improved molecular-based diagnostic assay using real-time polymerase chain reaction (PCR), and including sonication treatment prior to DNA extraction. Comparisons of several DNA extraction methods were performed to determine the method providing the maximum sensitivity. Sonication was found to be the most effective method for disrupting spores. Compared to previously published data on PCR-based assay using a dilution experiment, sensitivity is increased. This shows that our assay, which includes sonication, is capable of detecting parasite DNA at 1 log higher dilution than the conventional PCR-based assay, which does not include sonication. Furthermore, we demonstrate the application of this method to testing of water, eggs, and sperm, providing a potential non-lethal method for detection of this parasite in zebrafish colonies with a sensitivity of 10 spores l–1 of water, 2 spores per spiked egg sample, and 10 spores µl–1 of spiked sperm sample.