Send to:

Choose Destination
See comment in PubMed Commons below
Sci Total Environ. 2009 Jun 1;407(12):3641-51. doi: 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2008.10.054. Epub 2008 Dec 4.

DNA signature-based approaches for bacterial detection and identification.

Author information

  • 1IBMC-Instituto de Biologia Molecular e Celular, Universidade do Porto, Portugal.


During the late eighties, environmental microbiologists realized the potential of the polymerase chain reaction (PCR) for the design of innovative approaches to study microbial communities or to detect and identify microorganisms in diverse and complex environments. In contrast to long-established methods of cultivation-based microbial identification, PCR-based techniques allow for the identification of microorganisms regardless of their culturability. A large number of reports have been published that describe PCR-inspired methods, frequently complemented by sequencing or hybridization profiling, to infer taxonomic and clonal microbial diversity or to detect and identify microorganisms using taxa-specific genomic markers. Typing methods have been particularly useful for microbial ecology-driven studies; however, they are not suitable for diagnostic purposes, such as the detection of specific species, strains or clones. Recently, comprehensive reviews have been written describing the panoply of typing methods available and describing their advantages and limitations; however, molecular approaches for bacterial detection and identification were either not considered or only vaguely discussed. This review focuses on DNA-based methods for bacterial detection and identification, highlighting strategies for selecting taxa-specific loci and emphasizing the molecular techniques and emerging technological solutions for increasing the detection specificity and sensitivity. The massive and increasing number of available bacterial sequences in databases, together with already employed bioinformatics tools, hold promise of more reliable, fast and cost-effective methods for bacterial identification in a wide range of samples in coming years. This tendency will foster the validation and certification of these methods and their routine implementation by certified diagnostic laboratories.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
PubMed Commons home

PubMed Commons

How to join PubMed Commons

    Supplemental Content

    Full text links

    Icon for Elsevier Science
    Loading ...
    Write to the Help Desk