Genotypic and phenotypic methods were applied to investigate differences between the closely related species Campylobacter hyoilei and Campylobacter coli. A unique DNA sequence from C. hyoilei was used to design a specific PCR assay that amplified a DNA product of 383 bp for all C. hyoilei strains, but not other Campylobacter species, including C. coli. The PCR assay could detect 100 fg pure C. hyoilei DNA, 2 x 10(2) c.f.u. ml(-1) using cultured cells and 8.3 x 10(3) c.f.u. 0.1 g(-1) in faeces. The C. hyoilei sequence utilized for specific detection and identification of this species showed similarities to sequences from bacteriophages Mu, P2 and 186, suggesting lysogination of the ancestral C. hyoilei genome. Activities of a set of 15 enzymes that participate in a variety of cellular functions, including biosynthesis, catabolism, energy generation, maintenance of redox balance and phosphate utilization, were tested using sets of strains of C. hyoilei and C. coli. Comparison of mean rates of enzyme activities revealed significant differences between species in the values determined for seven of these activities. Both the genetic and phenotypic data indicate that C. hyoilei is a unique Campylobacter species.


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