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Clin Microbiol Rev. 1988 Apr;1(2):157-72.

The genus Campylobacter: a decade of progress.

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  • 1Department of Microbiology, Faculty of Medicine, University of Toronto, Ontario, Canada.


In 1977, microbiologists and clinicians were awakened to the importance of the genus Campylobacter when it was learned that one species, Campylobacter jejuni, was a major cause of human enteritis. In the following decade substantial advances were made in diagnosis, isolation technology, identification, classification, serotyping, and epidemiology. The genus has undergone rapid expansion as advantage was taken of the deoxyribonucleic acid-deoxyribonucleic acid hybridization technique in defining new species. The 14 species now included in the genus, however, constitute a widely diverse group, and one species, C. pylori, which is associated with human gastroduodenitis, is under consideration for reassignment to another genus. The nomenclature of the subspecies of C. fetus has been resolved and the role of C. fetus subsp. fetus as an agent of human infections has been more clearly defined. The thermophilic campylobacteria that are etiological agents of human enteritis now include three species, C. jejuni, C. coli, and C. laridis. Recently defined species that have also been implicated as enteritis-causing agents include C. hyointestinalis, "C. upsaliensis," "C. cinaedi," and "C. fennelliae." The aerotolerant campylobacteria are now included in the species C. cryaerophila, and the campylobacteria isolated from salt marshes are included in C. nitrofigilis. The taxonomy and nomenclature of C. sputorum have been revised. C. sputorum now consists of three biovars (biotypes). Two of these, biovar sputorum and biovar bubulus, were previously considered to be separate subspecies and the third, biovar fecalis, was previously regarded as a separate species and known as "C. fecalis." The former subspecies C. sputorum subsp. mucosalis has been elevated to the rank of species. C. mucosalis is metabolically closely related to C. consisus. Human pathogens have not been identified among C. sputorum, C. mucosalis, or C. concisus. The goal of this article is to review developments during the last 10 years with emphasis on changes in taxonomy that are important from the perspective of the clinical microbiologist.

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