The genus Xanthomonas contains a large number of strains, which have been characterized by a variety of phenotypic and genotypic classification methods. The Xanthomonas collection constitutes one of the largest groups of bacteria that have been characterized phylogenetically by DNA-DNA homology studies and genomic fingerprinting. Presently, a total genomic DNA-DNA homology value of 70% represents an internationally accepted criterion to define bacterial species levels. However, the complexity of DNA-DNA reassociation kinetics methods precludes the rapid analysis of large numbers of bacterial isolates, which is imperative for molecular microbial diversity studies. Therefore, the aim of this study was to compare more facile PCR-based genomic fingerprinting techniques, such as repetitive-sequence-based (rep)-PCR and AFLP genomic fingerprinting, to DNA-DNA hybridization studies. Using three different primer sets, rep-PCR genomic fingerprint patterns were generated for 178 Xanthomonas strains, belonging to all 20 previously defined DNA-DNA homology groups, and one Stenotrophomonas maltophilia strain. In addition, AFLP genomic fingerprints were produced for a subset of 80 Xanthomonas strains belonging to the 20 DNA-DNA homology groups and for the S. maltophilia strain. Similarity values derived from rep-PCR- and AFLP-generated fingerprinting analyses were calculated and used to determine the correlation between rep-PCR- or AFLP-derived relationships and DNA-DNA homology values. A high correlation was observed, suggesting that genomic fingerprinting techniques truly reveal genotypic and phylogenetic relationships of organisms. On the basis of these studies, we propose that genomic fingerprinting techniques such as rep-PCR and AFLP can be used as rapid, highly discriminatory screening techniques to determine the taxonomic diversity and phylogenetic structure of bacterial populations.


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