The Asian fish tapeworm (Schyzocotyle acheilognathi syn. Bothriocephalus acheilognathi) (AFT) is an invasive parasite that can infect many species of fish, although most hosts are primarily members of Cyprinidae. Pathogenicity has most often been reported in aquaculture settings in fry and fingerling stages of carp (Cyprinus spp.). More recently, it has been shown to cause growth retardation in the endangered bonytail chub (Gila elegans) and found to be widespread in populations of endangered humpback chub (Gila cypha) in the Colorado River, Grand Canyon, Arizona. AFT spreads most often through the transport of infected fish, particularly baitfish. Despite its harmful potential, there is no efficient or accurate ante mortem test to detect AFT in water or fish samples before transport. Herein, we report on the development of a sensitive and specific loop-mediated isothermal amplification (LAMP) assay to detect the parasite in under 30 min from laboratory prepared samples. Six LAMP primers were designed to amplify a variable region of the 18S ribosomal RNA gene in AFT with the detection and quantification of DNA on a real-time fluorometer. The limit of detection was 1 × 101 copies/μl of DNA extracted from as few as 2 AFT eggs. Future application of our assay would be a low-cost test to rapidly and accurately detect AFT DNA from environmental samples on-site so that preventive actions can be taken to halt the spread of the AFT through the movement of infected fish.

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