[Identification of bacteria through 16S rRNA sequencing: principles, methods and applications in clinical microbiology]

Enferm Infecc Microbiol Clin. 2004 Apr;22(4):238-45. doi: 10.1157/13059055.
[Article in Spanish]


Phylogenetic relationships among prokaryotes can be inferred from comparisons of their 16S rRNA (or 16S rDNA) sequences. This has had an enormous repercussion on bacterial taxonomy, leading to the currently applied system of classification, and allowing a rapid and precise identification of bacteria. In clinical microbiology, molecular identification based on 16S rDNA sequencing is applied fundamentally to bacteria whose identification by means of other types of techniques turns out impossible, difficult, or requires a lot of time. Amplification of the gene to be sequenced uses preferably DNA extracted from a bacterial pure culture, but can be achieved also directly from a clinical sample. The latter has led to the discovery of new pathogens. Bearing in mind its potential, as the technical resources improve and the prize becomes more competitive, the identification based on 16S rDNA sequencing will certainly find a wider application in the clinical microbiology laboratory.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • English Abstract
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • DNA Primers
  • DNA, Bacterial / genetics
  • DNA, Ribosomal / genetics
  • Genes, Bacterial*
  • Genes, rRNA*
  • Humans
  • Nucleic Acid Conformation
  • Operon / genetics
  • Phylogeny
  • RNA, Ribosomal, 16S / genetics*
  • RNA, Ribosomal, 16S / ultrastructure
  • Ribotyping* / instrumentation
  • Ribotyping* / methods
  • Sequence Analysis, RNA*
  • Sequence Homology, Nucleic Acid


  • DNA Primers
  • DNA, Bacterial
  • DNA, Ribosomal
  • RNA, Ribosomal, 16S