Identifying and subtyping species of dangerous pathogens by automated ribotyping

Diagn Microbiol Infect Dis. 2003 Sep;47(1):313-20. doi: 10.1016/s0732-8893(03)00095-6.


An investigation of dangerous bacterial pathogens was conducted to determine the usefulness of automated rRNA operon ribotyping (RiboPrinter system) to identify species. A total of 26 isolates comprising Bacillus anthracis, Brucella spp., Burkholderia mallei, Francisella tularensis, and Yersinia pestis were tested using restriction endonucleases EcoRI, PstI, PvuII and AseI. The main problem was that the system's database-relying on EcoRI as restriction enzyme-does not contain the essential dangerous pathogens. B. anthracis was misidentified as B. cereus and Y. pestis as Y. pseudotuberculosis. Two isolates of F. tularensis ssp. holarctica were falsely identified as Vibrio cholerae. This study underscores that riboprint patterns generated with a single restriction enzyme are not always unique for each of the species tested. Using more than one enzyme, the RiboPrinter proved to be a valuable primary typing method. Databases of commercially available systems for the identification of bacteria should include the most important dangerous pathogens.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Austria
  • Automation
  • Bacillus anthracis / classification
  • Bacterial Typing Techniques
  • Brucella / classification
  • Burkholderia / classification
  • Francisella tularensis / classification
  • Hazardous Substances
  • Humans
  • Ribotyping / methods*
  • Sensitivity and Specificity
  • Yersinia pestis / classification


  • Hazardous Substances