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Appl Environ Microbiol. 2013 Jan;79(1):196-204. doi: 10.1128/AEM.02802-12. Epub 2012 Oct 19.

Development of quantitative PCR assays targeting the 16S rRNA genes of Enterococcus spp. and their application to the identification of enterococcus species in environmental samples.

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1
National Risk Management Research Laboratory, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Cincinnati, Ohio, USA.

Abstract

The detection of environmental enterococci has been determined primarily by using culture-based techniques that might exclude some enterococcal species as well as those that are nonculturable. To address this, the relative abundances of enterococci were examined by challenging fecal and water samples against a currently available genus-specific assay (Entero1). To determine the diversity of enterococcal species, 16S rRNA gene-based group-specific quantitative PCR (qPCR) assays were developed and evaluated against eight of the most common environmental enterococcal species. Partial 16S rRNA gene sequences of 439 presumptive environmental enterococcal strains were analyzed to study further the diversity of enterococci and to confirm the specificities of group-specific assays. The group-specific qPCR assays showed relatively high amplification rates with targeted species (>98%), although some assays cross-amplified with nontargeted species (1.3 to 6.5%). The results with the group-specific assays also showed that different enterococcal species co-occurred in most fecal samples. The most abundant enterococci in water and fecal samples were Enterococcus faecalis and Enterococcus faecium, although we identified more water isolates as Enterococcus casseliflavus than as any of the other species. The prevalence of the Entero1 marker was in agreement with the combined number of positive signals determined by the group-specific assays in most fecal samples, except in gull feces. On the other hand, the number of group-specific assay signals was lower in all water samples tested, suggesting that other enterococcal species are present in these samples. While the results highlight the value of genus- and group-specific assays for detecting the major enterococcal groups in environmental water samples, additional studies are needed to determine further the diversity, distributions, and relative abundances of all enterococcal species found in water.

PMID:
23087032
PMCID:
PMC3536114
DOI:
10.1128/AEM.02802-12
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article
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