Phenotypic and genotypic analyses of clinical Fusobacterium nucleatum and Fusobacterium periodonticum isolates from the human gut.

Molecular and Cellular Biology, University of Guelph, 50 Stone Road East, Guelph, Ontario N1G 2W1, Canada.
Anaerobe (Impact Factor: 2.36). 01/2009; 14(6):301-9. DOI: 10.1016/j.anaerobe.2008.12.003
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT Fusobacterium nucleatum is a Gram-negative anaerobic rod that is part of the normal human microflora, and has also been associated with various infections. Bacterial strains belonging to the species are typically heterogeneous in both phenotype and genotype, which can hinder their identification in a clinical setting. The majority of F. nucleatum isolates originate from oral sites, however the species is also a resident of the human gastrointestinal tract. The aim of this study was to compare F. nucleatum isolates from human intestinal biopsy samples to try and determine whether isolates from this site are divergent from oral isolates. We used a variety of phenotypic and genotypic markers to compare 21 F. nucleatum and Fusobacterium periodonticum isolates from the GI tract to oral isolates and recognized type strains in order to study heterogeneity within this set. 16S rDNA and rpoB gene sequence analysis allowed us to build phylogenetic trees that consistently placed isolates into distinct clusters. 16S rDNA copy number analyses using Denaturing Gradient Gel Electrophoresis (DGGE) demonstrated potential for use as a method to examine clonality amongst species. Phenotypic analyses gave variable results that were generally unhelpful in distinguishing between phylogenetic clusters. Our results suggest that a) F. periodonticum isolates are not restricted to the oral niche; b) phenotypic classification is not sufficient to subspeciate isolates; c) heterogeneity within the species is extensive but constrained; and d) F. nucleatum isolates from the gut tend to identify with the animalis subspecies.

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