U.S. Department of Agriculture: Agricultural Research Service, Lincoln, Nebraska


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U.S. Government Works


D.S. Zarlenga, J. Higgins / Veterinary Parasitology 101 (2001) 215–230


Over the past 15 years, there has been a dramatic evolution in molecular approaches to study parasites and parasitic diseases. Many of these advancements have been brought about through the development of new applications of the polymerase chain reaction (PCR). Enhancements in sensitivity that can be achieved using PCR now permit scientists to investigate changes at the level of a single cell, far below what is often needed for parasite-derived applications. PCR has had a substantial impact on advances made in the areas of parasite systematics and epidemiology, immunology and host–parasite interactions, recombinant DNA vaccine development and most re- cently, the analysis of whole genomes either through directly sequencing the DNA, the analysis of expressed sequence tags (ESTs) or through the rapidly growing field of functional genomics. This paper, however, focuses on the application of PCR methodology to parasite detection and differen- tiation, and the diagnosis of disease. Specific attention is given to advances provided by multiplex PCR, fluorescence-based “real-time” PCR, and the utilization of PCR as a quantitative technique. Published by Elsevier Science B.V.