The general characteristics and genetics of insertion sequence (IS) elements are well-established. For IS elements, mechanisms of transposition and mutation are known and their recombinogenic role in the bacterial genome has been investigated. Population models relate the distribution of these IS elements to autoregulation of their transposition. IS, the smallest known element, is confined to the salmonellae and several lineages of . It exhibits atypical molecular features. The population dynamics of IS make it particularly effective marker of chromosomal genotype in many serovars. Molecular epidemiological typing with IS has been developed for important serovars in groups D1, C1, C2 and B. Findings for Enteritidis, Panama, Infantis, Typhimurium, Heidelberg, Paratyphi B and Java are reviewed. Of the 12 IS elements found in mycobacteria, IS, found in and , exhibits the greatest potential for molecular epidemiological applications. Although is a single serogroup, and its genome is otherwise highly homogeneous, strains are highly polymorphic with respect to copy number and location of IS. A standard IS typing method has been established, together with novel PCR-based approaches to IS fingerprinting.


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