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Rapid Detection Method for Bacillus anthracis Using a Combination of Multiplexed Real-Time PCR and Pyrosequencing and Its Application for Food Biodefense

Janzen, Timothy W., Thomas, Matthew C., Goji, Noriko, Shields, Michael J., Hahn, Kristen R., Amoako, Kingsley K.
Journal of food protection 2015 v.78 no.2 pp. 355-361
Bacillus anthracis, anthrax, apple juice, bioterrorism, bottled water, chromosomes, food matrix, immunomagnetic separation, milk, plasmids, public health, quantitative polymerase chain reaction, rapid methods, sequence analysis, spores, virulence
Bacillus anthracis, the causative agent of anthrax, has the capacity to form highly resilient spores as part of its life cycle. The potential for the dissemination of these spores using food as a vehicle is a huge public health concern and, hence, requires the development of a foodborne bioterrorism response approach. In this work, we address a critical gap in food biodefense by presenting a novel, combined, sequential method involving the use of real-time PCR and pyrosequencing for the rapid, specific detection of B. anthracis spores in three food matrices: milk, apple juice, and bottled water. The food samples were experimentally inoculated with 40 CPU ml(-1), and DNA was extracted from the spores and analyzed after immunomagnetic separation. Applying the combination of multiplex real-time PCR and pyrosequencing, we successfully detected the presence of targets on both of the virulence plasmids and the chromosome. The results showed that DNA amplicons generated from a five-target multiplexed real-time PCR detection using biotin-labeled primers cart be used for single-plex pyrosequencing detection. The combined use of multiplexed real-time PCR and pyrosequencing is a novel, rapid detection method for B. anthracis from food and provides a tool for accurate, quantitative identification with potential biodefense applications.