Efficient nested-PCR-based method development for detection and genotype identification of Acanthamoeba from a small volume of aquatic environmental sample

Tsui Kang Hsu, Jung Sheng Chen, Hsin Chi Tsai, Chi Wei Tao, Yu Yin Yang, Ying Chin Tseng, Yi Jie Kuo, Dar Der Ji, Jagat Rathod, Bing Mu Hsu*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


Acanthamoeba spp. are opportunistic human pathogens that cause granulomatous amoebic encephalitis and keratitis, and their accurate detection and enumeration in environmental samples is a challenge. In addition, information regarding the genotyping of Acanthamoeba spp. using various PCR methods is equally critical. Therefore, considering the diverse niches of habitats, it is necessary to develop an even more efficient genotyping method for Acanthamoeba spp. detection. This study improved the sensitivity of detection to avoid underestimation of Acanthamoeba spp. occurrence in aquatic environmental samples, and to accurately define the pathogenic risk by developing an efficient PCR method. In this study, a new nested genotyping method was established and compared with various PCR-based methods using in silico, lab, and empirical tests. The in silico test showed that many PCR-based methods could not successfully align specific genotypes of Acanthamoeba, except for the newly designed nested PCR and real-time PCR method. Furthermore, 52 water samples from rivers, reservoirs, and a river basin in Taiwan were analysed by six different PCR methods and compared for genotyping and detection efficiency of Acanthamoeba. The newly developed nested-PCR-based method of genotyping was found to be significantly sensitive as it could effectively detect the occurrence of Acanthamoeba spp., which was underestimated by the JDP-PCR method. Additionally, the present results are consistent with previous studies indicating that the high prevalence of Acanthamoeba in the aquatic environment of Taiwan is attributed to the commonly found T4 genotype. Ultimately, we report the development of a small volume procedure, which is a combination of recent genotyping PCR and conventional real-time PCR for enumeration of aquatic Acanthamoeba and acquirement of biologically meaningful genotyping information. We anticipate that the newly developed detection method will contribute to the precise estimation, evaluation, and reduction of the contamination risk of pathogenic Acanthamoeba spp., which is regularly found in the water resources utilised for domestic purposes.

Original languageEnglish
Article number21740
JournalScientific reports
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 2021


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