Molecular Tests

The molecular tests offered by BC CAHS are based on the detection of nucleic acid sequences using PCR based methods. These include: classical PCR, Quantitative PCR (qPCR), and Reverse Transcription qPCR (RT-qPCR).

PCR (Polymerase Chain Reaction) is a technique which amplifies a specific region, or sequence of DNA in order to produce enough DNA to be detectable and/or further studied. Following amplification, final PCR products are generally separated and visualized using gel electrophoresis.

Quantitative PCR (qPCR) is based on classical PCR, but amplification of the target DNA sequence is monitored using fluorescence-based chemistries. Reverse Transcription PCR (RT-qPCR) is used to detect RNA (rather than DNA) sequences.   One of the first steps in RT-qPCR entails the conversion of RNA template in to complementary DNA (cDNA), which is then used in qPCR. 

As compared to classical PCR, quantitative methods offer increased specificity, sensitivity, rapid diagnosis, the ability to detect multiple target sequences simultaneously (multiplex), and the ability to screen for RNA viruses.

Applications: Molecular methods (PCR, Quantitative PCR and Reverse Transcription-qPCR) are commonly used at BC CAHS to screen for the presence/absence of specific nucleic acid sequences. From this, inferences about the presence of disease-causing viruses, parasites, and/or bacteria can be made.

These molecular methods can be used to help answer a wide range of biological questions, and BC CAHS endeavours to stay at the forefront of developing needs.  BC CAHS has the in-house expertise to work with clients to develop additional methods for the detection of emerging pathogens or organisms of interest, or to answer other biological questions. Please contact us to discuss your needs.

Molecular assays have been developed or adapted at BC CAHS to screen samples for targets that include:


  • Kudoa thyrsites 
  • Loma salmonae


  • A.sal, Aeromonas salmonicida
  • IHNv, Infectious hematopoetic necrosis virus
  • IPNv, Infectious pancreatic necrosis virus
  • ISAv, Infectious salmon anemia virus 
  • N.perur, Neoparamoeba perurans
  • PRv, Piscine reovirus 
  • P.sal, Piscirickettsia salmonis
  • R.sal, Renibacterium salmoninarum 
  • SAV, Salmonid alphavirus
  • V.para, Vibrio parahaemolyticus
  • P.pseudo, Parvicapsula pseudobranchicola
  • VHSv, Viral hemorrhagic septicemia virus 
  • Y.ruck, Yersina ruckeri


Please contact us for more information about these services, and sample requirements.