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Trop Anim Health Prod. 2012 Dec;44(8):1981-92. doi: 10.1007/s11250-012-0167-4. Epub 2012 May 16.

Molecular characterization of Streptococcus agalactiae and Streptococcus uberis isolates from bovine milk.

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  • 1Project Directorate on Animal Disease Monitoring and Surveillance, Hebbal, Bangalore 560 024, India.


Streptococci are one among the major mastitis pathogens which have a considerable impact on cow health, milk quality, and productivity. The aim of the present study was to investigate the occurrence and virulence characteristics of streptococci from bovine milk and to assess the molecular epidemiology and population structure of the Indian isolates using multilocus sequence typing (MLST) and pulsed-field gel electrophoresis (PFGE). Out of a total of 209 bovine composite milk samples screened from four herds (A-D), 30 Streptococcus spp. were isolated from 29 milk samples. Among the 30 isolates, species-specific PCR and partial 16S rRNA gene sequence analysis identified 17 Streptococcus agalactiae arising from herd A and 13 Streptococcus uberis comprising of 5, 7, and 1 isolates from herds B, C, and D respectively. PCR based screening for virulence genes revealed the presence of the cfb and the pavA genes in 17 and 1 S. agalactiae isolates, respectively. Similarly, in S. uberis isolates, cfu gene was present in six isolates from herd C, the pau A/skc gene in all the isolates from herds B, C, and D, whereas the sua gene was present in four isolates from herd B and the only isolate from herd D. On MLST analysis, all the S. agalactiae isolates were found to be of a novel sequence type (ST), ST-483, reported for the first time and is a single locus variant of the predicted subgroup founder ST-310, while the S. uberis isolates were found to be of three novel sequence types, namely ST-439, ST-474, and ST-475, all reported for the first time. ST-474 was a double locus variant of three different STs of global clonal complex ST-143 considered to be associated with clinical and subclinical mastitis, but ST-439 and ST-475 were singletons. Unique sequence types identified for both S. agalactiae and S. uberis were found to be herd specific. On PFGE analysis, identical or closely related restriction patterns for S. agalactiae ST-483 and S. uberis ST-439 in herds A and B respectively, but an unrelated restriction pattern for S. uberis ST-474 and ST-475 isolates from herds D and C respectively, were obtained. This signifies that the isolates of particular ST may exhibit related PFGE patterns suggesting detection of a faster molecular clock by PFGE than MLST. Since all the isolates of both the species belonged to novel sequence types, their epidemiological significance in global context could not be ascertained, however, evidence suggests that they have uniquely evolved in Indian conditions. Further research would be useful for understanding the role of these pathogens in bovine sub-clinical mastitis and implementing effective control strategies in India.

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