Sensitive and Specific Molecular Detection of Burkholderia pseudomallei, the Causative Agent of Melioidosis, in the Soil of Tropical Northern Australia

Mirjam Kaestli, Mark Mayo, Glenda Harrington, F WATT, J Hill, D Gal, Bart Currie

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

    Abstract

    Burkholderia pseudomallei, the cause of the severe disease melioidosis in humans and animals, is a gram-negative saprophyte living in soil and water of areas of endemicity such as tropical northern Australia and Southeast Asia. Infection occurs mainly by contact with wet contaminated soil. The environmental distribution of B. pseudomallei in northern Australia is still unclear. We developed and evaluated a direct soil B. pseudomallei DNA detection method based on the recently published real-time PCR targeting the B. pseudomallei type III secretion system. The method was evaluated by inoculating different soil types with B. pseudomallei dilution series and by comparing B. pseudomallei detection rate with culture-based detection rate for 104 randomly collected soil samples from the Darwin rural area in northern Australia. We found that direct soil B. pseudomallei DNA detection not only was substantially faster than culture but also proved to be more sensitive with no evident false-positive results. This assay provides a new tool to detect B. pseudomallei in soil samples in a fast and highly sensitive and specific manner and is applicable for large-scale B. pseudomallei environmental screening studies or in outbreak situations. Furthermore, analysis of the 104 collected soil samples revealed a significant association between B. pseudomallei-positive sites and the presence of animals at these locations and also with moist, reddish brown-to-reddish gray soils. Copyright � 2007, American Society for Microbiology. All Rights Reserved.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)6891-6897
    Number of pages7
    JournalApplied and Environmental Microbiology
    Volume73
    Issue number21
    Publication statusPublished - 2007

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