Molecular confirmation of Enterococcus faecalis and E. faecium from clinical, faecal and environmental sources

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AimsThe genus Enterococcus includes opportunistic pathogens such as E. faecalis and E. faecium, and is also used to assess water quality. Speciation of enterococci in environmental studies can be particularly problematic, therefore protocols for unambiguous, DNA-based analysis could receive wide use in applications ranging from water quality monitoring to microbial source tracking. The goal of this work was to investigate the usefulness of PCR for speciation of putative, biochemically identified E. faecalis and E. faecium isolated from water, faeces and sewage.Methods and ResultsPutative enterococci (n = 139) were isolated on mEI agar from dog, human, gull and cow faeces, and from sewage, freshwaters and marine waters. A total of 128 isolates passed standard physiological tests for the genus, and were speciated by the API 20 Strep (APIStrep) biochemical test system. 42.2% were identified as E. faecalis, and all were confirmed by PCR. 19.5% were biochemically identified as E. faecium, but only seven were PCR-positive.ConclusionsThe 16S rDNA of PCR-positive and PCR-negative E. faecium, including isolates that were inconclusively identified by APIStrep, was sequenced. All formed a monophyletic clade with E. faecium sequences in Genbank.Significance and Impact of the StudyBiochemical identification of E. faecalis agreed 100% with PCR assays, therefore a simple protocol of isolation on mEI followed by PCR should be useful for environmental studies. Discrepancies among biochemical identification, PCR confirmation and DNA sequencing were noted for E. faecium, indicating that routine isolation/identification of E. faecium from environmental samples is a much more difficult task.

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