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Biomed Res Int. 2014;2014:645802. doi: 10.1155/2014/645802. Epub 2014 Jan 5.

Current methods in the molecular typing of Mycobacterium tuberculosis and other mycobacteria.

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Department of Applied Microbiology, Institute of Microbiology, Faculty of Biology, University of Warsaw, Ilii Miecznikowa 1, 02-096 Warsaw, Poland.
Department of Medical Microbiology, Radboud University Nijmegen Medical Centre, P.O. Box 9101, 6500 HB Nijmegen, The Netherlands.
WHO Supranational TB Reference Laboratory, TB and Mycobacteria Unit, Institut Pasteur de Guadeloupe, BP 484, 97183 Abymes Cedex, France.
Mycobacterium Genetics and Physiology Unit, Institute of Medical Biology, Polish Academy of Sciences, Lodowa 106, 93-232 Łódź, Poland.
Department of Genetics, Stanford University Medical School, Stanford, CA 94305-5120, USA.


In the epidemiology of tuberculosis (TB) and nontuberculous mycobacterial (NTM) diseases, as in all infectious diseases, the key issue is to define the source of infection and to disclose its routes of transmission and dissemination in the environment. For this to be accomplished, the ability of discerning and tracking individual Mycobacterium strains is of critical importance. Molecular typing methods have greatly improved our understanding of the biology of mycobacteria and provide powerful tools to combat the diseases caused by these pathogens. The utility of various typing methods depends on the Mycobacterium species under investigation as well as on the research question. For tuberculosis, different methods have different roles in phylogenetic analyses and person-to-person transmission studies. In NTM diseases, most investigations involve the search for environmental sources or phylogenetic relationships. Here, too, the type of setting determines which methodology is most suitable. Within this review, we summarize currently available molecular methods for strain typing of M. tuberculosis and some NTM species, most commonly associated with human disease. For the various methods, technical practicalities as well as discriminatory power and accomplishments are reviewed.

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