AFLP is a novel genomic fingerprinting method based on the selective PCR amplification of restriction fragments. The usability of this method for the differentiation of genomic species in the genus was investigated. A total of 151 classified strains (representing 18 genomic species, including type, reference, and field strains) and 8 unclassified strains were analyzed. By using a single set of restriction enzymes (III and I) and one particular set of selective PCR primers, all strains could be allocated to the correct genomic species and all groups were properly separated, with minimal intraspecific similarity levels ranging from 29 to 74%. Strains belonging to genomic species 8 ( sensu stricto) and 9 grouped together in one cluster. The closely related DNA groups 1 (), 2 (), 3, and 13TU (sensu Tjernberg & Ursing 1989) were clearly distinguishable, with intraspecific linkage levels above 50%. Strains of the independently described genomic species 13BJ (sensu Bouvet & Jeanjean 1989) and 14TU linked together at a relatively low level (33%). Although a previous DNA-DNA hybridization study seemed to justify the unification of these genomic species, AFLP analysis actually divides the 13BJ-14TU group into three well-separated subgroups. Finally, four unclassified strains obtained from diverse sources and origins grouped convincingly together, with a similarity linkage level of approximately 50%. These strains showed no similarities in their AFLP patterns with any of the other 155 strains studied and may represent a thus-far-undescribed species. Based on these results, AFLP should be regarded as an important auxiliary method for the delineation of genomic species. Furthermore, because AFLP provides a detailed insight into the infraspecific structure of taxa, the method also represents a highly effective means for the confirmation of strain identity in the epidemiology of acinetobacters.


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