We have previously identified species-specific DNA fragments, referred to as MS2/28 and Mm14, of Mycoplasma synoviae and Mycoplasma meleagridis, respectively. In the present study, we extended our analysis of the MS2/28 fragment that was found to encode a species-specific antigenic site, and we demonstrated the specificity of the Mycoplasma gallisepticum hemagglutinin protein encoded by pMGA1.2 (a member of the vlhA gene family). Then, we combined the Escherichia coli-expressed products of MS2/28, Mm14, and pMGA1.2, to develop a recombinant antigen-based enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (recELISA), for the simultaneous and specific detection of antibodies to the three aforementioned major avian mycoplasma species. For comparative purposes, a novel in-house crude antigen capture ELISA (capELISA) was developed in parallel. In the latter protocol, the microtiter wells were enriched in species-specific antigens by capturing sonicated crude antigens on coated rabbit polyclonal antibodies that had been extensively adsorbed with the whole antigen of the heterologous species. With regard to rapid serum agglutination, both ELISA tests were highly specific, and they showed a significant correlation when field sera from naturally infected birds were tested. recELISA proved to be highly specific because absorbance values, with the heterologous species, were significantly lower (P < 0.001) than those obtained with capELISA. Given its cost-effectiveness and simplicity, the recombinant antigen-based ELISA seems to represent a valid tool for the specific screening of the three major avian mycoplasma species. recELISA will be particularly useful with regard to trade control because a large number of samples from various fields could be rapidly processed.
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Vol. 52 • No. 2