SUMMARY: The rRNA gene restriction patterns of 110 strains belonging to 12 staphylococcal species have been determined. The strains, isolated from various sources, were epidemiologically unrelated. Total DNA was cleaved with restriction enzymes HindlII and Eco RI, electrophoretically separated and probed with radiolabelled 16S rDNA from inserted in a plasmid vector, pBR322. Fourty-four distinct Hindlll patterns and 44 distinct Rl patterns were observed. Strains belonging to different species had different patterns. Although distinct patterns were also observed within some species, a core of common bands could be discerned within each species or subspecies. Analysis of the patterns revealed two taxa in which were not evident using phenotypic characteristics. Of 18 strains which were difficult to identify using phenotypic schemes, 15 showed patterns typical of known species. The three remaining atypical strains showed unusual patterns and may belong either to a known species, not included in the study, or to a new species. Since various patterns were observed within some species (e.g. S. aureus and S. epidermidis), rRNA gene restriction patterns may have epidemiological, as well as taxonomic interest.


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