Moraxella catarrhalis is a bacterial species that has been implicated in 15-20% of all cases of otitis media in the USA and the complement-resistant variant of M. catarrhalis has been considered particularly pathogenic. A collection of geographically diverse, complement-sensitive (n=28) and - resistant strains (n=47) of M. catarrhalis was assembled in order to analyse the bacterial population structure. All strains were identified as M. catarrhalis by conventional microbiological and biochemical methods. Amplification of the small subunit (ssu) ribosomal RNA gene followed by restriction fragment length polymorphism (RFLP) analysis did not reveal consistent differences between serum-susceptible and -resistant M. catarrhalis isolates. Interestingly, upon automated ribotyping using the Qualicon RiboPrinter® microbial characterisation system, the complement- sensitive and -resistant strains segregated into two groups. This suggested the existence of two clearly distinguishable lineages within the species M. catarrhalis. This observation was corroborated by pulsed field gel electrophoresis (PFGE) of DNA macro-restriction fragments, a non-ribosomal PCR RFLP procedure and random amplification of polymorphic DNA (RAPD) analysis. All procedures grouped the two variants similarly. Redefinition of the taxonomic status of complement-resistant M. catarrhalis or even the definition of a new species may be opportune. (C) 2000 Federation of European Microbiological Societies.

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F E M S Microbiology Letters
Department of Medical Microbiology and Infectious Diseases

Verduin, C., Kools-Sijmons, M., van der Plas, J., Vlooswijk, J., Tromp, M., van Dijk, H., … van Belkum, A. (2000). Complement-resistant Moraxella catarrhalis forms a genetically distinct lineage within the species. F E M S Microbiology Letters, 184(1), 1–8. doi:10.1016/S0378-1097(00)00010-0