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Foodborne Pathog Dis. 2010 May;7(5):523-35. doi: 10.1089/fpd.2009.0447.

Virulotyping and antimicrobial resistance typing of Salmonella enterica serovars relevant to human health in Europe.

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  • 1National Salmonella Reference Laboratory, Federal Institute for Risk Assessment, Berlin, Germany.


The combination of virulence gene and antimicrobial resistance gene typing using DNA arrays is a recently developed genomics-based approach to bacterial molecular epidemiology. We have now applied this technology to 523 Salmonella enterica subsp. enterica strains collected from various host sources and public health and veterinary institutes across nine European countries. The strain set included the five predominant Salmonella serovars isolated in Europe (Enteritidis, Typhimurium, Infantis, Virchow, and Hadar). Initially, these strains were screened for 10 potential virulence factors (avrA, ssaQ, mgtC, siiD, sopB, gipA, sodC1, sopE1, spvC, and bcfC) by polymerase chain reaction. The results indicated that only 14 profiles comprising these genes (virulotypes) were observed throughout Europe. Moreover, most of these virulotypes were restricted to only one (n = 9) or two (n = 4) serovars. The data also indicated that the virulotype did not vary significantly with host source or geographical location. Subsequently, a representative subset of 77 strains was investigated using a microarray designed to detect 102 virulence and 49 resistance determinants. The results confirmed and extended the previous observations using the virulo-polymerase chain reaction screen. Strains belonging to the same serovar grouped together, indicating that the broader virulence-associated gene complement corresponded with the serovar. There were, however, some differences in the virulence gene profiles between strains belonging to an individual serovar. This variation occurred primarily within those virulence genes that were prophage encoded, in fimbrial clusters or in the virulence plasmid. It seems likely that such changes enable Salmonella to adapt to different environmental conditions, which might be reflected in serovar-specific ecology. In this strain subset a number of resistance genes were detected and were serovar restricted to a varying degree. Once again the profiles of those genes encoding resistance were similar or the same for each serovar in all hosts and countries investigated.

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