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Appl Environ Microbiol. 2012 Oct;78(19):7060-8. doi: 10.1128/AEM.01486-12. Epub 2012 Aug 3.

A wide variety of Clostridium perfringens type A food-borne isolates that carry a chromosomal cpe gene belong to one multilocus sequence typing cluster.

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  • 1NIZO Food Research, Ede, The Netherlands.


Of 98 suspected food-borne Clostridium perfringens isolates obtained from a nationwide survey by the Food and Consumer Product Safety Authority in The Netherlands, 59 strains were identified as C. perfringens type A. Using PCR-based techniques, the cpe gene encoding enterotoxin was detected in eight isolates, showing a chromosomal location for seven isolates and a plasmid location for one isolate. Further characterization of these strains by using (GTG)(5) fingerprint repetitive sequence-based PCR analysis distinguished C. perfringens from other sulfite-reducing clostridia but did not allow for differentiation between various types of C. perfringens strains. To characterize the C. perfringens strains further, multilocus sequence typing (MLST) analysis was performed on eight housekeeping genes of both enterotoxic and non-cpe isolates, and the data were combined with a previous global survey covering strains associated with food poisoning, gas gangrene, and isolates from food or healthy individuals. This revealed that the chromosomal cpe strains (food strains and isolates from food poisoning cases) belong to a distinct cluster that is significantly distant from all the other cpe plasmid-carrying and cpe-negative strains. These results suggest that different groups of C. perfringens have undergone niche specialization and that a distinct group of food isolates has specific core genome sequences. Such findings have epidemiological and evolutionary significance. Better understanding of the origin and reservoir of enterotoxic C. perfringens may allow for improved control of this organism in foods.

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