is the causative agent of Potomac horse fever. Variations among the major antigens of different local strains have been detected previously. To further assess genetic variability in this species or species complex, the sequences of the 16S rRNA genes of several isolates obtained from sick horses diagnosed as having Potomac horse fever were determined. The sequences of six isolates obtained from Ohio and three isolates obtained from Kentucky were amplified by PCR. Three groups of sequences were identified. The sequences of five of the Ohio isolates were identical to the sequence of the type strain of , the Illinois strain. The sequence of one Ohio isolate, isolate 081, was unique; this sequence differed in 10 nucleotides from the sequence of the type strain (level of similarity, 99.3%). The sequences of the three Kentucky isolates were identical to each other, but differed by five bases from the sequence of the type strain (level of similarity, 99.6%). The levels of sequence similarity of isolate 081, the Kentucky isolates, and the type strain to the next most closely related sp., , were 99.3,99.2, and 99.2%, respectively. On the basis of the distinct antigenic profiles and the levels of 16S rRNA sequence divergence, isolate 081 is as divergent from the type strain of as is. Therefore, we suggest that strain 081 and the Kentucky isolates may represent two new distinct species.


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