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J Med Microbiol. 2010 Oct;59(Pt 10):1163-70. doi: 10.1099/jmm.0.019844-0. Epub 2010 Jul 22.

Identification of species of the Burkholderia cepacia complex by sequence analysis of the hisA gene.

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Laboratory of Microbial and Molecular Evolution, Department of Evolutionary Biology, University of Florence, Via Romana 17-19, I-50125 Firenze, Italy.


Bacteria of the Burkholderia cepacia complex (Bcc) are opportunistic human pathogens that can cause serious infections in the lungs of cystic fibrosis patients. The Bcc is a complex taxonomic group and comprises 17 closely related species of both biotechnological and clinical importance that have been discriminated by a polyphasic taxonomic approach. In this study we focused on the hisA gene, which encodes a 1-(5-phosphoribosyl)-5-[(5-phosphoribosylamino) methylideneamino] imidazole-4-carboxamide isomerase involved in histidine biosynthesis, as a new target gene to discriminate among the Bcc species. PCR primers were designed to amplify a hisA DNA fragment of 442 bp from 78 strains representative of all the 17 Bcc species known at the time of writing. The nucleotide sequences of the amplicons were determined and aligned with the 54 Bcc sequences available in databases. Then a phylogenetic tree was constructed on the basis of this alignment and this revealed that this hisA region allows discrimination of all Bcc species, suggesting that this gene fragment can be used for the identification of Bcc strains. In addition, an 11 nucleotide letter code for the rapid discrimination of Bcc species was identified.

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