Rapid and specific detection of botulinum neurotoxin (BoNT) producing Clostridia is a priority for public health authorities, in case of both natural and intentional botulism outbreaks. This study reports on the evaluation of a detection system based on the GeneDisc Cycler designed for simultaneously testing the bont/A, bont/B, bont/E and bont/F genes encoding for the botulinum neurotoxins types A, B, E and F. BoNT-producing Clostridia (n=102) and non-BoNT-producing bacteria (n=52) isolated from clinical, food and environmental samples were tested using this macro-array and results were compared to the reference lethality test on mice. The bont genes were correctly detected in all C. botulinum type A, B, E and F strains available, as well as in toxigenic C. baratii type F and toxigenic C. butyricum type E. No cross reactivity was observed with non human-toxigenic bacteria, C. botulinum types C, D and G. The identification of the bont genotype using the macro-array was correlated to toxino-typing of the BoNTs as determined by the mouse bioassay. An “evaluation trial” of the GeneDisc array performed blind in four European laboratories with 77 BoNT-producing Clostridia as well as 10 food and clinical samples showed that the developed macro-array is specific and reliable for identifying BoNT/A-, BoNT/B-, BoNT/E- and BoNT/F-producing clostridial strains and for screening naturally contaminated food and fecal samples. The test is robust, has a low detection limit (c.a. 5 to 50 genome copies in the PCR reaction microwell) and is promising for monitoring BoNT-producing Clostridia in different kinds of samples including food and clinical samples.
- Clostridium botulinum
- Real-time PCR