Flagellin gene sequences from 64 clinical isolates of the opportunistic pathogen were amplified by PCR and subjected to RFLP analysis by using seven restriction enzymes to digest the amplified products. Using this approach the isolates were assigned to one of 13 groups. The method was rapid, reproducible and applicable to all isolates. In contrast, serotyping failed to satisfactorily resolve 49% of the strains tested. The vast majority of clinical isolates generated amplified products of 1.02 kb (type a) or 1.25 kb (type b). Electron microscopical analysis revealed evidence for some flagellar structural variation between strains. This study provides further evidence that the flagellin gene is a widely applicable and useful genetic marker for studying genetic variation within populations of closely related bacteria.


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