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J Food Prot. 2004 Oct;67(10):2302-5.

Development of a PCR test to differentiate between Staphylococcus aureus and Staphylococcus intermedius.

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  • 1Laboratoire de Microbiologie, UMR 1055, Ecole Nationale SupĂ©rieure Agronomique, Institut National de la Recherche Agronomique, CS84215, 35042 Rennes, France.


The presence of Staphylococcus intermedius in food remains unclear because routine laboratory analysis does not discriminate between S. intermedius and Staphylococcus aureus, a major cause of food poisoning. Both species share many phenotypic characteristics, including coagulase and thermonuclease production. In both species, some strains can produce enterotoxin and therefore can be the cause of food poisoning outbreaks. Although the ID32 Staph System (bioMĂ©rieux, SA, Marcy l'Etoile, France), based on a miniaturized phenotypic characterization, gives satisfactory results for discriminating between these two species, some rapid molecular PCR-based methods have been developed to identify S. aureus specifically, but they do not identify S. intermedius. Here, we developed a rapid, accurate, and discriminative multiplex PCR method that targets species-specific sequences in the nuc gene, which encodes thermonuclease in the two species. The test includes an internal positive control that targets a highly conserved region of 16S ribosomal RNA gene (rDNA). A total of 116 strains were used to validate our test. The test gave no signal on the following Staphylococcus species: S. epidermidis, S. chromogenes, S. hyicus, S. warneri, S. xylosus, S. lentus, and S. sciuri. It allowed a 100% successful discrimination between S. aureus (44 strains tested) and S. intermedius (57 strains) isolated from different origins.

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