Development of a PCR assay for the specific identification of the fish pathogen Tenacibaculum piscium

Mónica Saldarriaga-Córdoba, Henry Araya-León, Rute Irgang, Ruben Avendaño-Herrera

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Tenacibaculosis is an emerging disease that severely affects salmonid farming in Chile, producing high mortalities and causing great economic losses. This work describes a novel PCR assay for the specific detection of Tenacibaculum piscium, a species recently described and identified in tenacibaculosis outbreaks in Norway and Chile. The designed primers amplified a 678-bp fragment of the peptidase gene (peptidase M23 family) from T. piscium. This method is specific for T. piscium; no other chromosomal DNA amplification products were obtained for other Tenacibaculum species. In pure cultures, the PCR assay detected up to 500 pg of DNA, or the equivalent of 2.44 ± 0.06 × 104 CFU/ml. For seeded fish samples (i.e., gills, liver, kidney, and mucus), the sensitivity limit was 4.88 ± 0.11 × 106 CFU/g, sufficient to detect T. piscium in acute infections in fish. Notably, this sensitivity level was 100-fold lower for DNA extracted from mucus samples. As compared to other existing methodologies (e.g., gene sequencing), the PCR approach described in this work allowed for the easiest detection of T. piscium in mucus samples obtained from challenged fish, an important outcome considering that the identification of this bacterium is difficult. Our results indicate that the designed specific primers and PCR method provide a rapid and specific diagnosis of T. piscium.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)517-526
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Fish Diseases
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - May 2023


  • diagnostic
  • salmonids
  • tenacibaculosis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Aquatic Science
  • veterinary (miscalleneous)


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