Staircase electrophoresis (SCE) in polyacrylamide gels was used to analyse the stable low-molecular-weight (LMW) RNA profiles of several yeast species and genera. As in prokaryotes, this new electrophoretic technique results in good separation of molecules forming LMW RNA profiles in yeasts. In this study it is reported that, while LMW RNA profiles in prokaryotes include only 5S rRNA, and class 2 and class 1 tRNA, these profiles in eukaryotes also include 5.8S rRNA. Differences in the number and distribution of RNA bands in these profiles allowed identification of differences among the yeast species and genera assayed. LMW RNAs, analysed by SCE, provide a yeast fingerprint that allows them to be clearly differentiated and will in the future enable the rapid assignment of yeast isolates to already described species and the detection of new ones.


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