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J Clin Microbiol. Jul 1996; 34(7): 1617–1621.
PMCID: PMC229081

Molecular characterization of Mycobacterium paratuberculosis isolates from sheep, goats, and cattle by hybridization with a DNA probe to insertion element IS900.


Mycobactin J-dependent mycobacterial isolates from sheep, goat, and cattle herds with Johne's disease in Morocco, South Africa, the United States, and Germany were tested for the repetitive insertion sequence IS900 of Mycobacterium paratuberculosis by PCR. The IS900 PCR target sequence was detected in 90 of 93 fecal culture isolates tested (96.8%). Restriction fragment length polymorphisms (RFLPs) and in vitro growth characteristics were studied in 46 of the IS900-positive isolates and in two bovine vaccine strains of M. paratuberculosis. Five different RFLP types were identified in PvuII digests of genomic DNA by Southern hybridization with a DNA probe specific for IS900. All isolates of M. paratuberculosis could be classified into two major clusters by their growth rates as well as the relatedness of their PvuII-RFLP hybridization patterns. All of the sheep isolates were classified into cluster I (extremely slow growth), while all cattle and goat isolates were members of cluster II (moderately slow growth). Different PvuII-RFLP patterns were detected in different sheep flocks from Morocco and South Africa. Our results demonstrate that genetically and phenotypically different strains of M. paratuberculosis were present in ruminant populations. The strains from sheep in Morocco and South Africa tested in the study appeared to belong to a unique group of M. paratuberculosis strains that might have adapted to this host species. The presence of several genetically distinct strains in different sheep flocks suggested that analysis of IS900-specific RFLP patterns may provide a useful tool for the epidemiologic investigation of ovine paratuberculosis outbreaks.

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Selected References

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