Fluorescent in situ hybridization with specific DNA probes offers adequate detection of Enterococcus faecalis and Enterococcus faecium in clinical samples

J Med Microbiol. 2005 Oct;54(Pt 10):937-944. doi: 10.1099/jmm.0.46022-0.


Enterococcus faecalis and Enterococcus faecium are among the leading causes of hospital-acquired infections. Reliable and quick identification of E. faecalis and E. faecium is important for accurate treatment and understanding their role in the pathogenesis of infections. Fluorescent in situ hybridization (FISH) of whole bacterial cells with oligonucleotides targeted at the 16S rRNA molecule leads to a reduced time to identification. In clinical practice, FISH therefore can be used in situations in which quick identification is necessary for optimal treatment of the patient. Furthermore, the abundance, spatial distribution and bacterial cell morphology can be observed in situ. This report describes the design of two fluorescent-labelled oligonucleotides that, respectively, detect the 16S rRNA of E. faecalis and the 16S rRNA of E. faecium, Enterococcus hirae, Enterococcus mundtii, Enterococcus villorum and Enterococcus saccharolyticus. Different protocols for the application of these oligonucleotides with FISH in different clinical samples such as faeces or blood cultures are given. Enterococci in a biofilm attached to a biomaterial were also visualized. Embedding of the biomaterial preserved the morphology and therefore the architecture of the biofilm could be observed. The usefulness of other studies describing FISH for detection of enterococci is generally hampered by the fact that they have only focused on one material and one protocol to detect the enterococci. However, the results of this study show that the probes can be used both in the routine laboratory to detect and determine the enterococcal species in different clinical samples and in a research setting to enumerate and detect the enterococci in their physical environment.

MeSH terms

  • Biocompatible Materials
  • Biofilms
  • Blood / microbiology
  • Catheters, Indwelling / microbiology
  • DNA, Bacterial / genetics
  • DNA, Ribosomal / genetics
  • Enterococcus faecalis / genetics*
  • Enterococcus faecalis / isolation & purification*
  • Enterococcus faecium / genetics*
  • Enterococcus faecium / isolation & purification*
  • Feces / microbiology
  • Gram-Positive Bacterial Infections / diagnosis
  • Gram-Positive Bacterial Infections / microbiology*
  • Humans
  • In Situ Hybridization, Fluorescence / methods*
  • Oligonucleotide Probes*
  • RNA, Bacterial / genetics
  • RNA, Ribosomal, 16S / genetics


  • Biocompatible Materials
  • DNA, Bacterial
  • DNA, Ribosomal
  • Oligonucleotide Probes
  • RNA, Bacterial
  • RNA, Ribosomal, 16S