Development and comparative evaluation of real-time PCR and real-time RPA assays for detection of tilapia lake virus

Tilapia lake virus (TiLV) is a newly emerged pathogen responsible for high mortality and economic losses in the global tilapia industry. Early and accurate diagnosis is an important priority for TiLV disease control. In order to evaluate the methodology in the molecular diagnosis of TiLV, we compared newly developed quantitative real-time PCR (qPCR) and real-time recombinase polymerase amplification (real-time RPA) assays regarding their sensitivities, specificities and detection effect on clinical samples. Real-time RPA amplified the target pathogen in less than 30 min at 39°C with a detection limit of 620 copies, while qPCR required about 60 min with a detection limit of 62 copies. Both assays were specific for TiLV and there were no cross-reactions observed with other common fish pathogens. The assays were validated using 35 tissue samples from clinically infected and 60 from artificially infected animals. The sensitivities for the real-time RPA and qPCR assays were 93.33 and 100 %, respectively, and the specificity was 100 % for both. Both methods have their advantages and can play their roles in different situations. The qPCR is more suitable for quantitative analysis and accurate detection of TiLV in a diagnostic laboratory, whereas real-time RPA is more suitable for the diagnosis of clinical diseases and preliminary screening for TiLV infection in poorly equipped laboratories as well as in fish farms.

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