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J Microbiol Methods. 2007 Feb;68(2):376-84. Epub 2006 Oct 27.

A real-time PCR assay for the rapid determination of 16S rRNA genotype in Vibrio vulnificus.

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Gulf Coast Seafood Laboratory, U. S. Food and Drug Administration, Dauphin Island, Alabama 36528, United States.


In a terminal restriction fragment polymorphism (T-RFLP) study, we recently reported a significant association between the type B 16S rRNA gene and clinical strains of Vibrio vulnificus associated with the consumption of raw oysters. In the present study we describe a real-time PCR assay for the rapid determination of the 16S rRNA type of V. vulnificus isolates. This assay was used to reexamine the 16S rRNA gene type in the strains studied previously by T-RFLP and additional isolates from selected sources. Analyses revealed that 15 of the strains (10 environmental and 5 clinical) previously found to be 16S rRNA type A actually appear to possess both the type A and B genes. The presence of both alleles was confirmed by cloning and sequencing both gene types from one strain. To our knowledge, this is the first report of 16S rRNA sequence heterogeneity within individual strains of V. vulnificus. The findings confirm the T-RFLP data that 16S rRNA type may be a useful marker for determining the clinical significance of V. vulnificus in disease in humans and cultured eels. The real-time PCR assay is much more rapid and less resource-intensive than T-RFLP, and should facilitate further study of the occurrence and distribution of the 16S rRNA genotypes of V. vulnificus. These studies should provide more definitive estimates of the risks associated with this organism and may lead to a better understanding of its virulence mechanism(s).

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