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J Clin Microbiol. Feb 1994; 32(2): 335–351.
PMCID: PMC263034

PCR primers and probes for the 16S rRNA gene of most species of pathogenic bacteria, including bacteria found in cerebrospinal fluid.


A set of broad-range PCR primers for the 16S rRNA gene in bacteria were tested, along with three series of oligonucleotide probes to detect the PCR product. The first series of probes is broad in range and consists of a universal bacterial probe, a gram-positive probe, a Bacteroides-Flavobacterium probe, and two probes for other gram-negative species. The second series was designed to detect PCR products from seven major bacterial species or groups frequently causing meningitis: Neisseria meningitidis, Haemophilus influenzae, Streptococcus pneumoniae, S. agalactiae, Escherichia coli and other enteric bacteria, Listeria monocytogenes, and Staphylococcus aureus. The third series was designed for the detection of DNA from species or genera commonly considered potential contaminants of clinical samples, including cerebrospinal fluid (CSF): Bacillus, Corynebacterium, Propionibacterium, and coagulase-negative Staphylococcus spp. The primers amplified DNA from all 124 different species of bacteria tested. Southern hybridization testing of the broad-range probes with washes containing 3 M tetramethylammonium chloride indicated that this set of probes correctly identified all but two of the 102 bacterial species tested, the exceptions being Deinococcus radiopugnans and Gardnerella vaginalis. The gram-negative and gram-positive probes hybridized to isolates of two newly characterized bacteria, Alloiococcus otitis and Rochalimaea henselii, as predicted by Gram stain characteristics. The CSF pathogen and contaminant probe sequences were compared with available sequence information and with sequencing data for 32 different species. Testing of the CSF pathogen and contaminant probes against DNA from over 60 different strains indicated that, with the exception of the coagulase-negative Staphylococcus probes, these probes provided the correct identification of bacterial species known to be found in CSF.

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