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FEMS Microbiol Lett. 2006 Jan;254(2):268-74.

Establishment of a genotyping scheme for Coxiella burnetii.

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Diagnostic Laboratory for Infectious Diseases and Perinatal Screening, National Institute for Public Health and the Environment, Bilthoven, The Netherlands.


Coxiella burnetii is the causative agent of Q fever. The bacterium is highly infectious and is classified as a category B biological weapon. The tools of molecular biology are of utmost importance in a rapid and unambiguous identification of C. burnetii in naturally occurring Q fever outbreaks, or in cases of a deliberate release of the infectious agent. In this work, development of a multiple locus variable number tandem repeats (VNTR) analysis (MLVA) for the characterization of C. burnetii is described. Sixteen C. burnetii isolates and five passage history/laboratory variants were characterized. The VNTR markers revealed many polymorphisms resulting in nine unique MLVA types that cluster into five different clusters. This proves that the MLVA system is highly discriminatory. The selected VNTR markers were stable. The MLVA method developed in this report is a promising tool for the characterization of C. burnetii isolates and their epidemiological study.

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