A novel rapid DNA microarray assay enables identification of 37 Mycoplasma species and highlights multiple Mycoplasma infections.
Mycoplasmas comprise a conglomerate of pathogens and commensals occurring in humans and animals. The genus Mycoplasma alone contains more than 120 species at present, and new members are continuously being discovered. Therefore, it seems promising to use a single highly parallel detection assay rather than develop separate tests for each individual species. In this study, we have designed a DNA microarray carrying 70 oligonucleotide probes derived from the 23S rRNA gene and 86 probes from the tuf gene target regions. Following a PCR amplification and biotinylation step, hybridization on the array was shown to specifically identify 31 Mycoplasma spp., as well as 3 Acholeplasma spp. and 3 Ureaplasma spp. Members of the Mycoplasma mycoides cluster can be recognized at subgroup level. This procedure enables parallel detection of Mollicutes spp. occurring in humans, animals or cell culture, from mono- and multiple infections, in a single run. The main advantages of the microarray assay include ease of operation, rapidity, high information content, and affordability. The new test's analytical sensitivity is equivalent to that of real-time PCR and allows examination of field samples without the need for culture. When 60 field samples from ruminants and birds previously analyzed by denaturing-gradient gel electrophoresis (DGGE) were tested by the microarray assay both tests identified the same agent in 98.3% of the cases. Notably, microarray testing revealed an unexpectedly high proportion (35%) of multiple mycoplasma infections, i.e., substantially more than DGGE (15%). Two of the samples were found to contain four different Mycoplasma spp. This phenomenon deserves more attention, particularly its implications for epidemiology and treatment.