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J Clin Microbiol. 2006 Aug;44(8):2914-20.

Synergistes group organisms of human origin.

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Division of Oral Microbiology and Immunology, Department of Operative and Preventive Dentistry and Periodontology, University Hospital (RWTH), Pauwelsstrasse 30, D-52057 Aachen, Germany.


The bacterial division Synergistes represents a poorly characterized phylotype of which only a few isolates have been cultured, primarily from natural environments. Recent detection of Synergistes-like sequence types in periodontal pockets and caries lesions of humans prompted us to search the R. M. Alden culture collection (Santa Monica, Calif.) for biochemically unidentifiable, slow-growing, obligately anaerobic gram-negative bacilli. Here we report on five clinical isolates cultured from peritoneal fluid and two isolates from soft-tissue infections that together constitute three separate evolutionary lineages within the phylogenetic radiation of the division Synergistes. One of these clusters was formed by the peritoneal isolates and had an 85% similarity to Synergistes jonesii, the first described Synergistes species, which was isolated from the rumen of a goat. The isolates from soft-tissue infections, on the other hand, formed two distinct lineages moderately related to each other with a similarity of approximately 78%. In addition, by using a newly designed 16S rRNA gene-based PCR assay with intended target specificity for Synergistes, we found that the dominant phylotype from a fecal sample was nearly identical to that of the strains obtained from peritonitis. Conversely, sequence types detected in periodontal pockets formed a separate cluster that shared a similarity of only 80% with the soft-tissue isolates. These findings suggest a high diversity of medically important Synergistes clades that apparently are unique to individual ecological niches in the human body. In conclusion, we now have available the first characterized human isolates of the division Synergistes which are colonizing, and probably infecting, several sites in the human body.

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