Canadian journal of microbiology vol:52 issue:6 pages:584-90
The presence of high levels of Legionella pneumophila in man-made aquatic systems correlates with the incidence of nosocomial Legionnaires' disease. This requires a rapid, reliable, and sensitive quantification of L. pneumophila concentrations in suspected water systems. In this research, a homologous competitor was developed and evaluated in a L. pneumophila competitive polymerase chain reaction (cPCR) to quantify this human pathogen in a quick, cost-effective, and reliable way. Accuracy of cPCR was evaluated by analyzing cooling tower and tap water samples spiked with known concentrations of L. pneumophila bacteria, in parallel with the standard culture method. Legionella pneumophila amounts detected and calculated from cPCR and culture correlated very well: r = 0.998, P = 0.002 for tap water and r = 0.990, P = 0.009 for cooling tower water. Nevertheless, for both kinds of water samples, mean numbers of L. pneumophila calculated from cPCR results were always higher than those obtained by culture. This study makes it clear that the rapid, sensitive, and cost-effective L. pneumophila cPCR is a promising alternative to the standard time-consuming culture method and expensive real-time PCR to enumerate L. pneumophila bacteria in environmental water samples.