Performance of three molecular methods for detection of Toxoplasma gondii in pork
Comparison of epidemiological data on the occurrence of T. gondii tissue cysts in meat is hampered by the lack of standardization and a great variety of methods for molecular detection. Therefore, this study aimed to compare and validate three different polymerase chain reaction (PCR) methods for detection of T. gondii DNA in pork. Analytical performance characteristics of two real time PCRs (qPCRs; Tg-qPCR1, Tg-qPCR2) and one conventional endpoint PCR (cPCR), all targeting a 529 repeated element, were assessed using genomic DNA of three clonal T. gondii types prevailing in Europe and North America. qPCR efficiencies for all three clonal types ranged between 93.8 and 94.4% (Tg-qPCR1) and 94.3–95.6% (Tg-qPCR2). Tg-qPCR1 and Tg-qPCR2 showed an overall PCR performance score of 85% and displayed a similar 95% detection limit of 1.067 and 1.561 genome equivalents per PCR reaction (GE/PCR), respectively. However, T. gondii DNA could be detected at concentrations as low as 0.1 GE/PCR. Reliable quantification is possible over 4 log ranges from 105 to 100 GE/PCR with mean repeatability relative standard deviations of ≤11% and reproducibility relative standard deviations of ≤12.7%. Presumably, both qPCRs are similarly suitable for sensitive and specific detection of T. gondii DNA in pork. In contrast, the cPCR using primer pair TOX5/Tox-8 proved to be highly sensitive with a detection limit of 1.41 GE per reaction, but not suitable for detection of T. gondii DNA in pork as unspecific amplification of porcine DNA was observed resulting in bands with similar size to the desired T. gondii-specific PCR product.