Polymerase chain reaction (PCR) ribotyping detects differences in the intergenic spacer region between the 16S and 23S rRNA genes. This method was applied to isolates from 16 Welsh cystic fibrosis (CF) patients attending three different clinics. Amplification of the intergenic spacer followed by an additional digestion step with TaqI restriction endonuclease identified seven distinct electrophoretic patterns among the patient isolates. Each of the seven patterns was distinct from that of the so called “epidemic strain” commonly isolated from patients attending clinics elsewhere in the UK. Two environmental isolates from the hospital clinics and four NCTC reference strains gave different patterns. The simplicity of the method lends itself to use in a general microbiological laboratory.


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