Quantification of Malassezia pachydermatis by real-time PCR in swabs from the external ear canal of dogs

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7 Citations (Scopus)


© 2019 The Author(s). Malassezia pachydermatis is part of the normal microbiota of canine skin and external ear canal, and is also associated with otitis externa in dogs. Laboratory detection of Malassezia otitis relies on the presence of elevated numbers of the yeast on cytologic examination of otic exudate. Although cytology has high specificity, it has low sensitivity, resulting in false-negatives and posing a challenge for clinicians to accurately diagnose Malassezia otitis. We developed a quantitative PCR (qPCR) to detect and quantify M. pachydermatis yeasts and validate the method with swabs from external ear canals of dogs. Our qPCR uses the β-tubulin gene, a single-copy gene, as a target. The limit of quantification was established as 0.18 ng/reaction, equivalent to 2.0 × 104 genome equivalents (gEq). Swabs from healthy dogs yielded quantification values of ≤2.7 × 104 gEq in the qPCR, whereas swabs from dogs with otitis yielded quantification values of ≥2.5 × 105 gEq. Our qPCR assay provides accurate quantification of M. pachydermatis yeasts from swab samples from dogs, is more sensitive than cytology, and could be used to monitor response to treatment. Our assay could also be valuable in a research setting to better understand the pathogenesis of M. pachydermatis.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)440-447
JournalJournal of Veterinary Diagnostic Investigation
Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2019


  • Malassezia pachydermatis
  • dogs
  • otitis
  • quantitative PCR
  • β-tubulin


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