The species Acinetobacter calcoaceticus, A. baumannii, genomic species 3, and genomic species 13TU included in the Acinetobacter calcoaceticus- Acinetobacter baumannii complex are genetically highly related and difficult to distinguish phenotypically. Except for A calcoaceticus, they are all important nosocomial species. In the present study, the usefulness of the 16S-23S rRNA gene intergenic spacer (ITS) sequence for the differentiation of (genomic) species in the A. calcoaceticus-A. baumannii complex was evaluated. The ITSs of 11 reference strains of the complex and 17 strains of other (genomic) species of Acinetobacter were sequenced. The ITS lengths (607 to 638 bp) and sequences were highly conserved for strains within the A. calcoaceticus-A. baumannii complex. Intraspecies ITS sequence similarities ranged from 0.99 to 1.0, whereas interspecies similarities varied from 0.86 to 0.92. By using these criteria, 79 clinical isolates identified as A. calcoaceticus (18 isolates) or A. baumannii (61 isolates) with the API 20 NE system (bioMérieux Vitek, Marcy l'Etoile, France) were identified as A. baumannii (46 isolates), genomic species 3 (19 isolates), and genomic species 13TU (11 isolates) by ITS sequencing. An identification rate of 96.2% (76 of 79 isolates) was obtained by using ITS sequence analysis for identification of isolates in the A. calcoaceticus-A. baumannii complex, and the accuracy of the method was confirmed for a subset of strains by amplified rRNA gene restriction analysis and genomic DNA analysis by AFLP analysis by using libraries of profiles of reference strains. In conclusion, ITS sequence-based identification is reliable and provides a promising tool for elucidation of the clinical significance of the different species of the A. calcoaceticus-A. baumannii complex.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Microbiology (medical)