Aeromonas salmonicida is the causative agent of furunculosis, a disease that affects both salmonid and non-salmonid fish. Detection of A. salmonicida can be labour intensive and time consuming because of the difficulties in distinguishing the bacterium from other species given the wide variety of existing biochemical profiles and the slow growth characteristics which allow other organisms to overgrow the A. salmonicida. Herein, we report the development of a specific immunoassay using gold-conjugated polyclonal antibodies for the rapid detection of A. salmonicida in fish tissues. Monodispersible 13-nm gold nanoparticles were coated with polyclonal antibodies specific to A. salmonicida. Reddish purple agglutination of gold particles indicated the presence of A. salmonicida in samples. Positive reactions were detected visually with the naked eye. No agglutination was observed when A. salmonicida antibody-coated gold nanoparticles were tested with other common bacterial fish pathogens, thereby verifying the specificity of the assay. The assay could detect A. salmonicida in fish tissues down to 1 × 104 CFU mL-1, and results were obtained within 45 min. The antibody-coated gold nanoparticles were stable for at least 2 months at 4°C. The immunoassay using antibody-coated gold nanoparticles represents a promising tool for the rapid and specific detection of A. salmonicida in fish tissues.
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