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Development of molecular techniques for fungal diagnostic research

by Zeng, Qing-Yin

Abstract (Summary)
Fungi are present everywhere in indoor and outdoor environments. Many fungi are toxigenic or pathogenic that may cause various public health concerns. Rapid detection, quantification and characterization of fungi in living and working environments are essential for exposure risk assessment to safe guard public health.Rapid and accurate detection and identification of fungi using molecular method require specific markers. In this thesis, partial mt SSU and LSU rDNA were amplified and sequenced from 31 fungal species of 16 genera. Sequence alignments showed that fungal mt SSU and LSU rDNA contained sufficient amount of variation for the development of markers that can discriminate even among closely related species. Forty-eight probes were designed and were verified as highly specific to 25 fungal species commonly detected in living and working environments. These specific probes would have potential applications in clinical diagnosis and public health-related environmental monitoring.Nested PCR is a highly sensitive and specific method. Based on the nuclear 18S rDNA sequence variation pattern, three nested PCR systems were developed to detect the conifer tree pathogen Gremmeniella abietina, an ascomycete fungus that causes stem canker and shoot dieback in many conifer species. The three nested PCR systems showed high specificity and sensitivity. These methods could have broad applications in forest protection and disease management programs.Quantitative real-time PCR offers the ability of simultaneous detection and quantification of DNA of a specific microbe in one reaction. Based on the 18S rDNA sequence, two real-time PCR assays were developed to detect and quantify Wallemia sebi, a deuteromycete fungus commonly found in agricultural environments and is suspected to be a causative agent of farmer’s lung disease. Both PCR systems proved to be highly specific and sensitive for W. sebi detection even in a high background of other fungal DNAs. Application of the real-time PCR methods in the quantification of W. sebi in the aerosols of a farm revealed a high concentration of W. sebi spores (107/m3). The study indicates that W. sebi is a dominant fungus in agriculture environments.Cladosporium spores are important aeroallergens, and prolonged exposure to elevated spore concentrations can provoke chronic allergy and asthma. A TaqMan probe and a SYBR Green I based real-time PCR assay were developed to detect and quantify Cladosporium in aerosols. The two real-time PCR systems proved to be highly specific and sensitive for Cladosporium. These methods were employed to quantify Cladosporium in aerosols of five different indoor environments. High spore concentration of Cladosporium (107/m3) was observed in a cow barn. Cladosporium spore concentration in paper and pulp factory and countryside house also exceeded threshold value for clinical significance. Prolonged exposure in these environments could impose certain health risk. Thus, monitoring Cladosporium spore concentration in indoor environments is important for indoor air quality control.
Bibliographical Information:

Advisor:

School:Umeå universitet

School Location:Sweden

Source Type:Doctoral Dissertation

Keywords:NATURAL SCIENCES; Biology; Cell and molecular biology; Molecular biology; Molecular biology; Fungi; DNA markers; Aerosols; Detection and quantification; Environmental monitoring; Molekylärbiologi; molekylärbiologi; Molecular Biology

ISBN:91-7305-994-3

Date of Publication:01/01/2005

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