Comparison of 16S rRNA sequencing with conventional and commercial phenotypic techniques for identification of enterococci from the marine environment
ABSTRACT Aims: To compare accuracy of genus and species level identification of presumptive enterococci isolates from the marine environment using conventional biochemical testing, four commercial identification systems and 16S rRNA sequence analysis.Methods and Results: Ninety-seven environmental bacterial isolates identified as presumptive enterococci on mEI media were tested using conventional and Enterococcus genus screen biochemical tests, four commercial testing systems and 16S rRNA sequencing. Conventional and Enterococcus genus screen biochemical testing, 16S rRNA sequencing and two commercial test systems achieved an accuracy of ≥94% for Enterococcus genus confirmation. Conventional biochemical testing and 16S rRNA sequencing achieved an accuracy of ≥90% for species level identification.Conclusions: For confirmation of Enterococcus genus from mEI media, conventional or genus screen biochemical testing, 16S rRNA sequencing and the four commercial systems were correct 79–100% of the time. For speciation to an accuracy of 90% or better, either conventional biochemical testing or 16S rRNA sequencing is required.Significance and Impact of the Study: Accurate identification of presumptive environmental Enterococcus isolates to genus and species level is an integral part of laboratory quality assurance and further characterization of Enterococcus species from pollution incidents. This investigation determines the ability of six different methods to correctly identify environmental isolates.