has attracted much interest both as a cofactor for the progression of AIDS and as a pathogenic agent in non-AIDS related diseases. Previous studies with serological and genetic techniques suggest that represents a homogeneous group of organisms, with no significant differences identified among the strains examined. In this study, 25 cultures of , including isolates from human sources and tissue culture cells, were compared by pyrolysis mass spectrometry (PMS). It was possible to distinguish the‘type’ strain PG-18 from an AIDS-associated strain‘incognitus’ by this technique. PMS was also able to differentiate laboratory-induced aminoglycoside-resistant variants from their fully susceptible parents. Four AIDS-associated isolates were distinguished from each other, whilst five European cell culture isolates were shown to be closely related, as were six isolates from an outbreak of acute respiratory infection in Canada. PMS has proved useful in distinguishing isolates of , providing epidemiological data. In addition, PMS may help in determining the likely origin of a given isolate, and in the future may be of use in assessing the role of this micro-organism in human disease.


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