Mycoplasmas are pathogens of different avian species, but the role of Mycoplasma in raptors is not yet completely determined. As Mycoplasma isolation and identification present several difficulties, species-specific polymerase chain reactions (PCRs) for the detection of mycoplasmas found in birds of prey (Mycoplasma buteonis, Mycoplasma corogypsi, Mycoplasma falconis, and Mycoplasma gypis) were established. The specificity of the PCR methods were investigated using known avian Mycoplasma reference strains and isolates as well as related bacteria and was found to be specific. Amplificons obtained with these PCRs from field samples showed no false-positive results in restriction enzyme analysis and sequencing. The sensitivities of the different PCR assays varied between 50 fg and 1 pg DNA. Twenty-five tracheal swabs from healthy captive birds of prey were investigated by culture and immunobinding assay as comparison to the PCRs. Mycoplasmal DNA was detected in 88% of the samples, with negative results only from vultures. Mycoplasma falconis and M. buteonis were regularly found in falcons, and M. gypis was found in a common buzzard. Mycoplasma corogypsi was not demonstrated. Several isolates could not be differentiated using an immunobinding assay as well as the described PCR methods.
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Vol. 52 • No. 1