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      Accuracies of Leuconostoc phenotypic identification: a comparison of API systems and conventional phenotypic assays

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          Commercial diagnostics are commonly used to identify gram-positive bacteria. Errors have been reported mostly at the species level. We have found certain phenotypic criteria used in API systems which significantly misidentify Leuconostoc, an emerging human pathogen, at the genus level. We also attempt to find practical, conventional phenotypic assays for accurate identification of this group of bacteria.


          Clinical isolates of catalase-negative, gram-positive coccoid or coccobacillary bacteria with non-β hemolysis in our institute during 1997–2004 were subject to an identification aid by API 20 STREP, following the instruction manual, as an aid to conventional phenotypic tests. Those identified as Leuconostoc by API 20 STREP were re-examined by the same kit and also by API 50 CHL according to the instruction manuals, by our Leuconostoc conventional phenotypic assays, by Leuconostoc- and Lactobacillus-specific PCR's, and, where possible, by 16S rDNA sequence analysis. In addition, catalase-negative gram-positive isolates during 2005–2006 which were resistant to vancomycin at high levels were also evaluated by the same phenotypic and genotypic assays.


          Out of several thousands of clinical gram-positive isolates, 26 catalase negative gram-positive isolates initially identified as Leuconostoc by API 20 STREP and 7 vancomycin-resistant gram-positive catalase-negative bacteria entered the study. 11 out of the 26 isolates and all the 7 isolates were identified as Leuconostoc by API 20 STREP. Only 5 isolates, however, were confirmed by both genotypic and all defined conventional phenotypic criteria. API 50 CHL also failed to reliably provide accurate identification of Leuconostoc. We have identified key problem tests in API 20 STREP leading to misidentification of the bacteria. A simple, conventional set of phenotypic tests for Leuconostoc identification is proposed.


          The current API systems cannot accurately identify Leuconostoc. Identification of vancomycin-resistant, catalase-negative gram-positive bacteria should be performed by a few practical phenotypic assays, with assistance of genotypic assays where available.

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          Most cited references 26

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          The lactic acid bacteria: a literature survey.

          The purpose of this review article on the lactic acid bacteria grew from an early curiosity and a desire to convey and impart the broad scope of literary information on their functions as starter cultures, in the manufacture of fermentation products such as dairy products and alcoholic beverages, as well as their contribution to better health. This review article is an attempt to empower the reader and to circumvent the difficult task in acquiring and elucidating a large body of information. The intent is to familiarize the reader with the various lactic species, their habitat or source, associated food, physiological characteristics, colonial morphology, biochemical characteristics, culture media (enrichment, nonselective, and selective), classic description, and taxonomy. This review provides information on Lactobacillus, Lactococcus, Leuconostoc, Pediococcus, Carnobacterium, and Enterococcus. Trends are presented, such as the use of nisin to extend food shelf-life and the current research premise that Probiotic strains may alter the intestinal flora and thus prevent intestinal wall penetration by pathogens.
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            Ribosomal DNA sequencing for identification of aerobic gram-positive rods in the clinical laboratory (an 18-month evaluation).

            We have evaluated over a period of 18 months the use of 16S ribosomal DNA (rDNA) sequence analysis as a means of identifying aerobic gram-positive rods in the clinical laboratory. Two collections of strains were studied: (i) 37 clinical strains of gram-positive rods well identified by phenotypic tests, and (ii) 136 clinical isolates difficult to identify by standard microbiological investigations, i.e., identification at the species level was impossible. Results of molecular analyses were compared with those of conventional phenotypic identification procedures. Good overall agreement between phenotypic and molecular identification procedures was found for the collection of 37 clinical strains well identified by conventional means. For the 136 clinical strains which were difficult to identify by standard microbiological investigations, phenotypic characterization identified 71 of 136 (52.2%) isolates at the genus level; 65 of 136 (47.8%) isolates could not be discriminated at any taxonomic level. In comparison, 16S rDNA sequencing identified 89 of 136 (65.4%) isolates at the species level, 43 of 136 (31.6%) isolates at the genus level, and 4 of 136 (2.9%) isolates at the family level. We conclude that (i) rDNA sequencing is an effective means for the identification of aerobic gram-positive rods which are difficult to identify by conventional techniques, and (ii) molecular identification procedures are not required for isolates well identified by phenotypic investigations.
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              A PCR-based method for identification of lactobacilli at the genus level.

              We developed a polymerase chain reaction (PCR)-based method for the identification of lactobacilli at the genus level. One specific primer, LbLMA1-rev, was designed by analysing similarities between the nucleotide sequence of the spacer between the 16S and 23S rRNA genes in a number of Lactobacillus strains. Amplification with LbLMA1-rev and R16-1, a universal primer, generated a PCR product for 23 Lactobacillus species. Electrophoresis did not reveal any discrete bands when Escherichia coli, Lactococcus lactis, Leuconostoc mesenteroides, Streptococcus thermophilus, Carnobacterium pissicola, Pediococcus pentosaceus, Bifidobacterium bifidum, Weissella confusa, Enterococcus hirae, Staphylococcus aureus or Listeria monocytogenes DNA were used as template.

                Author and article information

                BMC Infect Dis
                BMC Infectious Diseases
                BioMed Central (London )
                2 July 2007
                : 7
                : 69
                [1 ]Department of Medicine, Faculty of Medicine, Chulalongkorn University, Bangkok, Thailand
                [2 ]Department of Microbiology, Faculty of Medicine, Chulalongkorn University, Bangkok, Thailand
                Copyright © 2007 Kulwichit et al; licensee BioMed Central Ltd.

                This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

                Research Article

                Infectious disease & Microbiology


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