DNA probe–based detection methods were developed and characterized as an alternative to time-consuming and less specific conventional protocols. Digoxigenin-labeled probes were prepared by polymerase chain reaction amplification of the targeted sequences in the specific amplicons generated from genomic DNA. Specific probes with high yields were generated for the detection of the tlh gene of Vibrio parahaemolyticus and the cth gene of V. vulnificus. Colony (Southern) hybridization analyses were carried out using hydrophobic grid membrane filters (HGMFs) to allow biotype-specific differentiation of the two species. Eight strains of V. vulni cusfiand five strains of V. parahaemolyticus, including one standard (ATCC) strain of each biotype, were examined. Colony lysis, hybridization, and nonradioactive detection parameters were optimized for identification of the target biotypes arranged on the same HGMF and also on a conventional nylon membrane, thereby confirming the specificity of the probes and the comparative usefulness of the HGMFs. The experimental procedure presented here can be completed in 1 day. The protocol was designed specifically to identify the target Vibrio spp. and could potentially be used for the enumeration and differentiation of V. parahaemolyticus and V. vulnificus in foods.
†Present address: National Food Safety and Toxicology Center, East Lansing, MI 48824-1314, USA.