Aims: To validate a phenotypic Campylobacter species identification method employed to identify campylobacters in broilers by comparison with campylobacterial species identification using various species-specific PCR analyses. Methods and Results: From a collection of 2733 phenotypically identified campylobacterial cultures, 108 Campylobacter jejuni cultures and 351 campylobacterial cultures other than Camp. jejuni were subjected to various species-specific PCR assays. On the basis of the genotypic tests, it was demonstrated that Camp. jejuni and Camp. coli constituted approx. 99% of all cultures, while other species identified were Helicobacter pullorum, Camp. lari and Camp. upsaliensis. However, 29% of the 309 Camp. coli cultures identified by phenotypic tests were hippurate-variable or negative Camp. jejuni cultures, whereas some Camp. lari cultures and unspeciated campylobacter cultures belonged to H. pullorum. It was also notable that 2 - 6% of the cultures were, in fact, mixed cultures. Conclusions: The phenotypic identification scheme employed failed to appropriately differentiate Campylobacter species and particularly to identify the closely related species, H. pullorum. Significance and Impact of the Study: Future phenotypic test schemes should be designed to allow a more accurate differentiation of Campylobacter and related species. Preferably, the phenotypic tests should be supplemented with a genotypic strategy to disclose the true campylobacterial species diversity in broilers.
Journal of Applied Microbiology, 2003, Vol 95, Issue 4, p. 649-655