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Open Access Research

Molecular identification of clinical “difficult-to-identify” microbes from sequencing 16S ribosomal DNA and internal transcribed spacer 2

Cancan Cheng, Jingjing Sun, Fen Zheng, Kuihai Wu and Yongyu Rui*

Author Affiliations

Laboratory Medicine Center, Nanfang Hospital, Southern Medical University, Guangzhou, Tonghe 510515, China

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Annals of Clinical Microbiology and Antimicrobials 2014, 13:1  doi:10.1186/1476-0711-13-1

Published: 3 January 2014

Abstract

Background

Clinical microbiology laboratories have to accurately identify clinical microbes. However, some isolates are difficult to identify by the automated biochemical text platforms, which are called “difficult-to-identify” microbes in this study. Therefore, the ability of 16S ribosomal DNA (16S rDNA) and internal transcribed spacer 2 (ITS2) sequencing to identify these “difficult-to-identify” bacteria and fungi was assessed in this study.

Methods

Samples obtained from a teaching hospital over the past three years were examined. The 16S rDNA of four standard strains, 18 clinical common isolates, and 47 “difficult-to-identify” clinical bacteria were amplified by PCR and sequenced. The ITS2 of eight standard strains and 31 “difficult-to-identify” clinical fungi were also amplified by PCR and sequenced. The sequences of 16S rDNA and ITS2 were compared to reference data available in GenBank by using the BLASTN program. These microbes were identified according to the percentage of similarity to reference sequences of strains in GenBank.

Results

The results from molecular sequencing methods correlated well with automated microbiological identification systems for common clinical isolates. Sequencing results of the standard strains were consistent with their known phenotype. Overall, 47 “difficult-to-identify” clinical bacteria were identified as 35 genera or species by sequence analysis (with 10 of these identified isolates first reported in clinical specimens in China and two first identified in the international literature). 31 “difficult-to-identify” clinical fungi tested could be identified as 15 genera or species by sequence analysis (with two of these first reported in China).

Conclusions

Our results show the importance of 16S rDNA and internal ITS2 sequencing for the molecular identification of “difficult-to-identify” bacteria and fungi. The development of this method with advantages of convenience, availability, and cost-effectiveness will make it worth extending into clinical practice in developing countries.

Keywords:
Bacteria; Fungi; 16S rDNA; Internal transcribed spacer 2