A total of 218 strains was examined for production of toxin A by ELISA, production of toxin B by a cytotoxin assay and the presence of toxin A and B geneassociated sequences by the polymerase chain reaction (PCR). After saturation amplification with toxin B-specific primers, the characteristic amplification product (591 bp) was detected in all 184 toxigenic strains examined. PCR with toxin A-specific primers gave positive results with all but one of the toxigenic strains. By contrast, PCR with toxin A- and toxin B-specific primers yielded negative results with all 34 non-toxigenic strains tested. This suggests that PCR detection of either the toxin A or B gene is a good indication of toxin production. PCR did not require DNA extraction or hybridisation and was convenient, sensitive and rapid. Toxigenic could be detected in mixed cultures, suggesting a role for PCR in the identification of toxigenic in primary culture.


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