QPCR assay for detecting and quantifying a virulence plasmid in acute hepatopancreatic necrosis disease (AHPND) due to pathogenic Vibrio parahaemolyticus

Jee Eun Han, Kathy F.J. Tang, Carlos R. Pantoja, Brenda L. White, Donald V. Lightner

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

30 Scopus citations


A quantitative polymerase chain reaction (qPCR) assay was developed, based on a TaqMan probe, to detect and quantify a virulence plasmid harbored by the bacterium Vibrio parahaemolyticus which can cause acute hepatopancreatic necrosis disease (AHPND). The assay uses a pair of PCR primers, which amplify a 135-bp DNA fragment, and a TaqMan probe selected from the plasmid pirA-like gene. This qPCR assay reacted with AHPND-pathogenic isolates of V. parahaemolyticus collected from Vietnam and Mexico, but not with non-pathogenic strains of Vibrio spp. For quantification, a plasmid (pVpPirA-1) containing the target pirA-like gene was constructed, purified and serially diluted to be used as a standard. With this standard, the qPCR assay was then used to quantify the virulence plasmid in shrimp samples collected from different farms. Up to 5.8×105 copy per mg tissue were detected in AHPND-affected shrimp collected from Vietnam. Lower quantities, up to 1.5×104 copies per mg of tissues were detected in affected shrimp collected from a Chinese farm. In the laboratory bioassays, similar plasmid quantities, 1.8×103 to 4.7×106 copies of plasmid per mg of tissues were found in the moribund/dead shrimp, 3.5×102 to 2.2×106 copies of plasmid per mL were detected in the water samples. This assay is specific with high sensitivity (10 copies of virulence plasmid) and can be used to detect AHPND-pathogenic V. parahaemolyticus in shrimp and water samples.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)12-15
Number of pages4
StatePublished - May 1 2015



  • Acute hepatopancreatic necrosis disease (AHPND)
  • Early mortality syndrome (EMS)
  • PirA-like gene
  • QPCR
  • Vibrio parahaemolyticus

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Aquatic Science

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