We used crossed immunoelectrophoresis, crossed-line immunoelectrophoresis, tandem-crossed immunoelectrophoresis, and crossed immunoelectrophoresis with an intermediate gel (containing antibodies) in studies of bacterial taxonomy. By these quantitative immunoelectrophoretic methods, as many as 90 antigens from a bacterial species can easily and reproducibly be analyzed for immunological cross-reactivity with antigens from other bacterial species without prior purification of antigens. The immunological cross-reactivity between various bacterial species is expressed as the matching coefficient (MC), i.e., the ratio between the number of cross-reactive antigens with another bacterial species and the total number of antigens of the reference bacterial species. The MC has been found to be significantly correlated with phenotypic similarities (biochemical characteristics) and nucleic acid hybridization results obtained with the taxa investigated so far. In general, closely related strains (serotypes within a species) have a high MC (≥0.90), while different species of the same genus have a lower MC (0.90 to 0.70 or lower in some cases); genera within a family have an intermediate MC (0.70 to 0.15), and distantly related taxa have a very low MC (≤0.15).


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