The population consists of a large number of clones among which the ubiquitous leukotoxin gene operon appears very homogeneous. Population genetic analyses performed by multilocus enzyme electrophoresis together with DNA fingerprinting and analyses of genomic DNA restriction fragment length polymorphisms (RFLP) on 97 strains isolated over a period of 45 years revealed that each of the serotypes a, b, c, d and e comprise genetically isolated subpopulations and that successful horizontal transfer of genomic DNA between strains of different serotypes appears to be extremely rare In contrast, recombination between strains of the same serotype in general appears to take place in nature. The results provide evidence that non-serotypeable strains are serotype antigen-deficient variants originating from strains of the known serotypes. Serotype b and c strains may contain transmittable DNA sequences not found in strains of the other serotypes.


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