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Keywords:

  • bacterial load;
  • fallowing period;
  • Piscirickettsia salmonis

Abstract

A highly sensitive real-time PCR procedure to detect and quantify the number of Pisciricketsia salmonis units in seawater samples from affected farm sites has been developed. The purpose was to determine a fallowing period that would allow safe restocking of the target farm with new fish. Bacterial load was determined in water samples by comparing the obtained amplification values against a standard curve generated by the amplification of known concentrations of the ITS-ribosomal component of P. salmonis DNA, cloned in a suitable vector. The standard curve was linear over the range of 101–1010 log units. Target samples were taken every 10 days over a 40-day period, at 5 m depth and at the surface. In a highly affected area of southern Chile, the number of bacterial units in farm water decreased to zero at day 50. Therefore, a fallowing period of 50 days post-removal of cages of affected fish appears to be appropriate before restocking. This procedure could be adapted to control disease problems because of other pathogens in fish farm waters.