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To investigate the potential of amplified fragment length polymorphism (AFLP) profiling for genotyping Arcobacter butzleri and to obtain further data on the genetic diversity of this organism.Seventy-three isolates of Danish, British, Turkish, Swedish, Nigerian and North American origin from human infections, chickens, turkeys, ducks, sheep and poultry abbatoir effluent were studied by use of a protocol that involved stringent PCR amplification of fragments derived from digestion of genomic DNA with restriction enzymes BglII and Csp6I. The mean similarity value of duplicate profiles of 10 isolates was 91·15%, indicating the method to be reproducible. Numerical analysis of all 73 isolates distinguished 51 subtypes at the 91% similarity level, of which 39 comprised single strains. The remaining 34 isolates were distributed among 12 subtypes, each of which contained strains homogeneous with respect to their respective source of isolation. However, contemporaneous strains from the same source could also be distinguished.AFLP profiling is an effective method for typing the genetically diverse organism A. butzleri.The study represents a comprehensive analysis of the genetic diversity of A. butzleri by use of isolates from six countries spanning three continents and also shows that several distinct A. butzleri genotypes may be found in a given environment. AFLP profiling appears to have considerable potential for molecular epidemiological studies of this ubiquitous emerging pathogen that is implicated as a causative agent of both human and animal disease.