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New publication in BMC Veterinary Research

11 abr 2024 - 09:56 CET

Biochemical and molecular characterization of Campylobacter fetus isolates from bulls subjected to bovine genital campylobacteriosis diagnosis in Spain

Nerea Pena-Fernández, Nekane Kortabarria, Ana Hurtado, Medelin Ocejo, Marcelo Fort, Iratxe Pérez-Cobo, Esther Collantes-Fernández, Gorka Aduriz 

Bovine genital campylobacteriosis (BGC) is caused by Campylobacter fetus subsp. venerealis (Cfv) including its biovar intermedius (Cfvi). This sexually transmitted disease induces early reproductive failure causing considerable economic losses in the cattle industry. Using a collection of well-characterized isolates (n = 13), C. fetus field isolates (n = 64) and saprophytic isolates resembling Campylobacter (n = 75) obtained from smegma samples of breeding bulls, this study evaluated the concordance of the most used phenotypic (H2S production in cysteine medium and 1% glycine tolerance) and molecular (PCR) methods for the diagnosis of BGC and assessed possible cross-reactions in the molecular diagnostic methods.

Characterization at the subspecies level (fetus vs. venerealis) of C. fetus isolated from bull preputial samples using phenotypic and molecular (PCR targeting nahE and ISCfe1) methods showed moderate concordance (κ = 0.462; CI: 0.256–0.669). No cross-reactions were observed with other saprophytic microaerophilic species or with other Campylobacter species that can be present in preputial samples. Whole genome sequencing (WGS) of discrepant isolates showed 100% agreement with PCR identification. For the differentiation of Cfv biovars, comparison of the H2S test (at 72 h and 5 days of incubation) and a PCR targeting the L-cysteine transporter genes showed higher concordance when H2S production was assessed after 5 days (72 h; κ = 0.553, 0.329–0.778 CI vs. 5 days; κ = 0.881, 0.631–1 CI), evidencing the efficacy of a longer incubation time.

This study confirmed the limitations of biochemical tests to correctly identify C. fetus subspecies and biovars. However, in the case of biovars, when extended incubation times for the H2S test (5 days) were used, phenotypic identification results were significantly improved, although PCR-based methods produced more accurate results. Perfect agreement of WGS with the PCR results and absence of cross-reactions with non-C. fetus saprophytic bacteria from the smegma demonstrated the usefulness of these methods. Nevertheless, the identification of new C. fetus subspecies-specific genes would help to improve BGC diagnosis.

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