A “universal non-metazoan” polymerase chain reaction (UNonMet-PCR) that selectively amplifies a segment of non-metazoan Small Subunit (SSU) rDNA gene was validated. The primers used were: 18S-EUK581-F (5′-GTGCCAGCAGCCGCG-3′) and 18S-EUK1134-R (5′-TTTAAGTTTCAGCCTTGCG-3′) with specificity provided by the 19-base reverse primer. Its target site is highly conserved across the Archaea, Bacteria, and eukaryotes (including fungi), but not most Metazoa (except Porifera, Ctenophora, and Myxozoa) which have mismatches at bases 14 and 19 resulting in poor or failed amplification. During validation, UNonMet-PCR amplified SSU rDNA gene fragments from all assayed protists (n = 16 from 7 higher taxa, including two species of marine phytoplankton) and Fungi (n = 3) but amplified very poorly or not at all most assayed Metazoa (n = 13 from 8 higher taxa). When a non-metazoan parasite was present in a metazoan host, the parasite DNA was preferentially amplified. For example, DNA from the parasite Trypanosoma danilewskyi was preferentially amplified in mixtures containing up to 1,000× more goldfish Carassius auratus (host) DNA. Also, the weak amplification of uninfected host (Chionoecetes tanneri) SSU rDNA did not occur in the presence of a natural infection with a parasite (Hematodinium sp.). Only Hematodinium sp. SSU rDNA was amplified in samples from infected C. tanneri. This UNonMet-PCR is a powerful tool for amplifying SSU rDNA from non-metazoan pathogens or symbionts that have not been isolated from metazoan hosts.
The Journal of Eukaryotic Microbiology
Vol. 51 • No. 3
Vol. 51 • No. 3
preferential amplification of parasite DNA
SSU rDNA fragment