Eighteen strains isolated from human specimens or from food products were characterized as atypical variants of mannitol-negative Streptococcus bovis. They were tested for extended biochemical criteria, ribotyping and DNA-DNA hybridization in order to define their taxonomic status. These strains were demonstrated to constitute a DNA relatedness group that includes strains of DNA group 4 of Farrow et al. (1984). Comparative analysis of 16S rRNA sequences demonstrated that these strains represent a new species which belongs to the Streptococcus bovis/Streptococcus equinus complex and which has been provisionally named S. infantarius by Bouvet et al. (1997). Biotyping and ribotyping allowed differentiation of these strains from the aesculin-positive strains of S. bovis belonging to the previously described biotypes I, II.1 and II.2. The results of the ribotyping and hybridization assays demonstrated the presence of two different DNA subgroups within the 18 strains. On the basis of these data, the names S. infantarius subsp. infantarius (aesculin-negative for five strains out of seven, including the type strain HDP 90056T = NCDO 599T) and S. infantarius subsp. coli (aesculin-positive, reference strain HDP 90248 = NCDO 2620) are proposed as the names for these two subspecies within the S. infantarius species.


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