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ArticleDGGE-based detection method for Quahog Parasite Unknown (QPX)(Inter-Research, 2006-06-12) Gast, Rebecca J. ; Cushman, E. ; Moran, Dawn M. ; Uhlinger, Kevin R. ; Leavitt, Dale F. ; Smolowitz, Roxanna M.Quahog Parasite Unknown (QPX) is a significant cause of hard clam Mercenaria mercenaria mortality along the northeast coast of the United States. It infects both wild and cultured clams, often annually in plots that are heavily farmed. Subclinically infected clams can be identified by histological examination of the mantle tissue, but there is currently no method available to monitor the presence of QPX in the environment. Here, we report on a polymerase chain reaction (PCR)-based method that will facilitate the detection of QPX in natural samples and seed clams. With our method, between 10 and 100 QPX cells can be detected in 1 l of water, 1 g of sediment and 100 mg of clam tissue. Denaturing gradient gel electrophoresis (DGGE) is used to establish whether the PCR products are the same as those in the control QPX culture. We used the method to screen 100 seed clams of 15 mm, and found that 10 to 12% of the clams were positive for the presence of the QPX organism. This method represents a reliable and sensitive procedure for screening both environmental samples and potentially contaminated small clams.