Species Detection within the Echinococcus granulosus sensu lato Complex by Novel Probe-Based Real-Time PCRs
Infections with eggs of Echinococcus granulosus sensu lato (s.l.) can cause cystic echinococcosis in intermediate host animals and humans. Upon ingestion of viable eggs, oncospheres hatch from the eggs and subsequently develop into fluid-filled larval cysts, most frequently in the liver or the lungs. The slowly growing cysts progressively interfere with organ function. The risk of infection is determined by the host range of the parasite, its pathogenicity and other epidemiologically relevant parameters, which differ significantly among the five species within the E. granulosus s.l. complex. It is therefore essential to diagnose the correct species within E. granulosus s.l. to help understand specific disease epidemiology and to facilitate effective implementation of control measures. For this purpose, simple, fast and cost-effective typing techniques are needed. We developed quantitative real-time polymerase chain reactions (qPCRs) to target polymorphic regions in the mitochondrial genome of E. granulosus s.l. In a single-step typing approach, we distinguished E. granulosus s.l. members in four epidemiologically relevant subgroups. These were E. granulosus sensu stricto, E. equinus, E. ortleppi and the E. canadensis cluster. The technique also allowed identification and differentiation of these species from other Echinococcus or Taenia taxa for samples isolated from cysts or faeces.