The value of rRNA gene RFLP analysis (ribotyping) as a tool for and species identification was evaluateed. Seventy-four strains representing 26 different species or subspecies were analysed by Ell, and l ribotyping. Numerical analysis of the resulting rDNA banding patterns was performed by Dice coefficient correlation in order to establish a database for species identification. In general, most of the strains belonging to the same species clustered together. Interestingly, Ell clustering of many species followed known phylogenetic lineages. This was not evident with the more heterogeneous and l patterns. The patterns contained a 1800 bp band in the digests of all species studied with the exception of l digestion resulted in the most heterogeneous patterns. The information provided by all three enzymes was considered essential for the reliable linking of starins of unknown identity with defined species in the database. It is concluded that ribotyping provides an useful tool for screening and charactrization of potentially new species.


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