An assay was developed for the specific detection of Salmonella Enteritidis in eggs with the use of an application of the fluorogenic 5′ nuclease assay (TaqMan). In this assay, a segment of the gene sefA specific to Salmonella group D strains such as Salmonella Enteritidis was used. The amplification of the target gene products was monitored in real-time by incorporating a fluorescent dye–labeled gene-specific probe in the PCR reaction. This method correctly detected and distinguished Salmonella Enteritidis from nearly 50 of non–group D Salmonella and other non- Salmonella strains. Detection of the sefA gene was linear for DNA extracted from approximately 102 to 109 CFU/ml in phosphate-buffered saline and 103 to 108 CFU/ml in raw egg. In two trials, when applied to detection of Salmonella Enteritidis in homogenized egg pools and compared with conventional culture methods, the newly developed PCR method yielded a 100% correlation with results obtained by a conventional culture method. However, the PCR method required only 2 days, compared to the 5 days required by the culture method. The sensitivity of this assay was approximately less than 1 CFU/600 g of egg pool. The real-time PCR assay proved to be a rapid, highly sensitive test for detection and quantification of low concentrations of Salmonella Enteritidis in egg samples.

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