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J Clin Microbiol. 1999 Apr;37(4):1084-91.

DNA banding pattern polymorphism in vancomycin-resistant Enterococcus faecium and criteria for defining strains.

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Laboratory of Hospital Infection, Central Public Health Laboratory, London, United Kingdom.


The degree of DNA banding pattern polymorphism exhibited by vancomycin-resistant Enterococcus faecium (VREM) strains isolated on a renal unit over an 11-month period was investigated. Thirty VREM strains from different patients were analyzed by pulsed-field gel electrophoresis (PFGE; with extended run and optimal pulse times), ribotyping, plasmid profile analysis, biotyping, pyrolysis mass spectrometry, and antibiogram analysis. PFGE resolved 17 banding patterns which formed four distinct clusters at the 82% similarity level. Intercluster band differences ranged from 14 to 31 bands. The strains in one cluster, which contained seven patterns that differed from each other by one to seven bands and from the common pattern by five bands, were confirmed to be a single strain by four of the five other typing methods. The strains in a second cluster with eight patterns, which differed from each other by 1 to 12 bands, contained two subclusters. This subdivision was supported by ribotyping and biotyping. However, it was unclear whether these subclusters represented distinct strains. In one strain, marked polymorphism (patterns that differed from each other by up to four bands) was observed in the ribotype pattern. This study demonstrates the high degree of DNA banding pattern polymorphism found for some strains of VREM and illustrates the complexity involved in defining such strains.

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