Molecular methods allow the detection of pathogen nucleic acids (DNA and RNA) and, therefore, the detection of contamination in food is carried out with high selectivity and rapidity. In the last 2 decades molecular methods have accompanied traditional diagnostic methods in routine pathogen detection, and might replace them in the upcoming future. In this review the implementation in diagnostics of four of the most used molecular techniques (PCR, NASBA, microarray, LDR) are described and compared, highlighting advantages and limitations of each of them. Drawbacks of molecular methods with regard to traditional ones and the difficulties encountered in pathogen detection from food or clinical specimen are also discussed. Moreover, criteria for the choice of the target sequence for a secure detection and classification of pathogens and possible developments in molecular diagnostics are also proposed
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