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Microb Ecol. 2010 Jan;59(1):14-24. doi: 10.1007/s00248-009-9601-1.

Resolution of phenotypically distinct strains of Enterococcus spp. in a complex microbial community using cpn60 universal target sequencing.

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Department of Veterinary Microbiology, Western College of Veterinary Medicine, University of Saskatchewan, Saskatoon, SK, Canada.


Characterization of complex microbial communities is frequently based on the examination of polymerase chain reaction amplified sequences from a single phylogenetic marker, usually the 16S rRNA gene. However, this commonly used target often does not offer robust resolution of species or sub-species and is thus not a sufficiently informative target for understanding microbial population dynamics occurring at the strain level. We have used the cpn60 universal target sequence to characterize Enterococcus isolates from feces of growing pigs and have shown that sub-species groups, not detected using 16S rRNA sequences, can be resolved. Furthermore, groups resolved by cpn60-based phylogenetic analysis have distinct phenotypes. We report changes in the structure and function of Enterococcus communities in pig feces sampled from individual animals at three times, from suckling through to maturity. Enterococcus faecalis was largely replaced by Enterococcus hirae between suckling and 9 weeks of age, and a shift from one sub-species group of E. hirae to another was observed in all animals between 9 and 15 weeks. Conversely, E. faecalis strains remained consistent throughout the study period. Our results demonstrate that cpn60 sequences can be used to detect strain level changes in Enterococcus populations during succession in the fecal microbiota of growing pigs.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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