The infra-specific phylogenetic diversity and genetic structure of both Klebsiella pneumoniae and Klebsiella oxytoca was investigated using a combination of randomly amplified polymorphic DNA (RAPD) analysis, sequencing of gyrA and parC genes, and automated ribotyping. After RAPD analysis with four independent primers of 120 clinical isolates collected from 22 European hospitals in 13 countries, K. pneumoniae isolates fell into three clusters and K. oxytoca isolates fell into two clusters, while Klebsiella planticola isolates formed a sixth cluster. Each cluster was geographically widespread. K. pneumoniae cluster I (KpI) accounted for 80% of the isolates of this species and included reference strains of the three subspecies K. pneumoniae subsp. pneumoniae, K. pneumoniae subsp. ozaenae and K. pneumoniae subsp. rhinoscleromatis. Clusters KpII and KpIII were equally represented, as were the two K. oxytoca clusters. Individualization of each cluster was fully confirmed by phylogenetic analysis of gyrA and parC gene sequences. In addition, sequence data supported the evolutionary separation of K. pneumoniae from a phylogenetic group including K. oxytoca, Klebsiella terrigena, K. planticola and Klebsiella ornithinolytica. Automated ribotyping using Mlu I appeared suitable for identification of each Klebsiella cluster. The adonitol fermentation test was found to be useful for cluster identification in K. pneumoniae, since it was negative in all strains of clusters KpIII and in some KpII strains, but always positive in cluster KpI. The usefulness of gyrA and parC sequence data for population genetics and cluster identification in bacteria was demonstrated, even for the phylogenetic positioning of quinolone-resistant isolates.


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