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Trends Microbiol. 2003 Oct;11(10):479-87.

Multi-locus sequence typing: a tool for global epidemiology.

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Peter Medawar Building for Pathogen Research and Department of Zoology, University of Oxford, South Parks Road, OX1 3SY, Oxford, UK.


The characterization of pathogenic isolates plays a pivotal role in the epidemiology of infectious diseases, generating the information necessary for identifying, tracking, and intervening against disease outbreaks. In 1998 multi-locus sequence typing (MLST) was proposed as a nucleotide sequence-based approach that could be applied to many bacterial pathogens. It combined developments in high-throughput sequencing and bioinformatics with established population genetics techniques to provide a portable, reproducible, and scalable typing system that reflected the population and evolutionary biology of bacterial pathogens. MLST schemes have been developed for a variety of procaryotic and eucaryotic pathogens and the data generated have contributed to both epidemiological surveillance and fundamental studies of pathogen biology.

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