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1.  Phenotypic and Genotypic Characteristics of Members of the Genus Streptobacillus 
PLoS ONE  2015;10(8):e0134312.
The genus Streptobacillus (S.) remained monotypic for almost 90 years until two new species were recently described. The type species, S. moniliformis, is one of the two etiological agents of rat bite fever, an under-diagnosed, worldwide occurring zoonosis. In a polyphasic approach field isolates and reference strains of S. moniliformis, S. hongkongensis, S. felis as well as divergent isolates were characterized by comparison of molecular data (n = 29) and from the majority also by their physiological as well as proteomic properties (n = 22). Based on growth-independent physiological profiling using VITEK2-compact, API ZYM and the Micronaut system fastidious growth-related difficulties could be overcome and streptobacilli could definitively be typed despite generally few differences. While differing in their isolation sites and dates, S. moniliformis isolates were found to possess almost identical spectra in matrix-assisted laser desorption ionization—time of flight mass spectrometry and Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy. Spectroscopic methods facilitated differentiation of S. moniliformis, S. hongkongensis and S. felis as well as one divergent isolate. Sequencing of 16S rRNA gene as well as functional genes groEL, recA and gyrB revealed only little intraspecific variability, but generally proved suitable for interspecies discrimination between all three taxa and two groups of divergent isolates.
PMCID: PMC4529157  PMID: 26252790
2.  Outbreak with clonally related isolates of Corynebacterium ulcerans in a group of water rats 
BMC Microbiology  2015;15:42.
The zoonotic bacterium Corynebacterium ulcerans may be pathogenic both in humans and animals: toxigenic strains can cause diphtheria or diphtheria-like disease in humans via diphtheria toxin, while strains producing the dermonecrotic exotoxin phospholipase D may lead to caseous lymphadenitis primarily in wild animals. Diphtheria toxin-positive Corynebacterium ulcerans strains have been isolated mainly from cattle, dogs and cats.
Here, we report a series of ten isolations of Corynebacterium ulcerans from a group of water rats (Hydromys chrysogaster) with ulcerative skin lesions, which were kept in a zoo. The isolates were clearly assigned to species level by biochemical identification systems, Fourier-transform infrared-spectroscopy, Matrix-assisted laser desorption/ionization-time of flight mass spectrometry and partial rpoB sequencing, respectively. All ten isolates turned out to represent the same sequence type, strongly indicating a cluster of infections by clonally-related isolates as could be demonstrated for the first time for this species using multilocus sequence typing. Unequivocal demonstration of high relatedness of the isolates could also be demonstrated by Fourier-transform infrared-spectroscopy. All isolates were lacking the diphtheria toxin encoding tox-gene, but were phospholipase D-positive.
Our results indicate that water rats represent a suitable new host species that is prone to infection and must be regarded as a reservoir for potentially zoonotic Corynebacterium ulcerans. Furthermore, the applied methods demonstrated persistent infection as well as a very close relationship between all ten isolates.
PMCID: PMC4342102  PMID: 25887321
Corynebacterium ulcerans; Water rat; Hydromys chrysogaster; Diphtheria toxin; FT-IR; MALDI-TOF MS; rpoB; tox; MLST; Persistent infection
3.  Identification of Trueperella pyogenes Isolated from Bovine Mastitis by Fourier Transform Infrared Spectroscopy 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(8):e104654.
The present study was designed to investigate the potential of Fourier transform infrared (FT-IR) spectroscopy to identify Trueperella (T.) pyogenes isolated from bovine clinical mastitis. FT-IR spectroscopy was applied to 57 isolates obtained from 55 cows in a period from 2009 to 2012. Prior to FT-IR spectroscopy these isolates were identified by phenotypic and genotypic properties, also including the determination of seven potential virulence factor encoding genes. The FT-IR analysis revealed a reliable identification of all 57 isolates as T. pyogenes and a clear separation of this species from the other species of genus Trueperella and from species of genus Arcanobacterium and Actinomyces. The results showed that all 57 isolates were assigned to the correct species indicating that FT-IR spectroscopy could also be efficiently used for identification of this bacterial pathogen.
PMCID: PMC4136790  PMID: 25133407
4.  Nontoxigenic tox-bearing Corynebacterium ulcerans Infection among Game Animals, Germany 
Emerging Infectious Diseases  2014;20(3):448-452.
Corynebacterium ulcerans may cause diphtheria in humans and caseous lymphadenitis in animals. We isolated nontoxigenic tox-bearing C. ulcerans from 13 game animals in Germany. Our results indicate a role for game animals as reservoirs for zoonotic C. ulcerans.
PMCID: PMC3944853  PMID: 24572455
Corynebacterium ulcerans; Sus scrofa; Capreolus capreolus; wildlife; zoonoses; diphtheria toxin; diphtheria; pseudotuberculosis; toxigenic; nontoxigenic; Germany; bacteria
5.  Yersinia enterocolitica in Diagnostic Fecal Samples from European Dogs and Cats: Identification by Fourier Transform Infrared Spectroscopy and Matrix-Assisted Laser Desorption Ionization–Time of Flight Mass Spectrometry 
Journal of Clinical Microbiology  2013;51(3):887-893.
Yersinia enterocolitica is the main cause of yersiniosis in Europe, one of the five main bacterial gastrointestinal diseases of humans. Beside pigs, companion animals, especially dogs and cats, were repeatedly discussed in the past as a possible source of pathogenic Y. enterocolitica. To investigate the presence and types of Y. enterocolitica in companion animals, a total of 4,325 diagnostic fecal samples from dogs and 2,624 samples from cats were tested. The isolates obtained were differentiated by using matrix-assisted laser desorption ionization–time of flight mass spectrometry (MALDI-TOF MS) and Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy (FT-IR). Isolated Y. enterocolitica strains were bioserotyped. The detection of the ail gene by PCR and confirmation by FT-IR were used as a pathogenicity marker. Y. enterocolitica strains were isolated from 198 (4.6%) of the dog and 8 (0.3%) of the cat fecal samples investigated. One hundred seventy-nine isolates from dogs were analyzed in detail. The virulence factor Ail was detected in 91.6% of isolates. Isolates of biotype 4 (54.7%) and, to a lesser extent, biotypes 2 (23.5%), 3 (11.2%), and 5 (2.2%) were detected. The remaining 8.4% of strains belonged to the ail-negative biotype 1A. All 7 isolates from cats that were investigated in detail were ail positive. These results indicate that companion animals could be a relevant reservoir for a broad range of presumptively human-pathogenic Y. enterocolitica types. MALDI-TOF MS and FT-IR proved to be valuable methods for the rapid identification of Y. enterocolitica, especially in regard to the large number of samples that were investigated in a short time frame.
PMCID: PMC3592050  PMID: 23284028
6.  Identification of Yersinia enterocolitica at the Species and Subspecies Levels by Fourier Transform Infrared Spectroscopy ▿  
Applied and Environmental Microbiology  2009;75(18):5809-5813.
Yersinia enterocolitica and other Yersinia species, such as Y. pseudotuberculosis, Y. bercovieri, and Y. intermedia, were differentiated using Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy (FT-IR) combined with artificial neural network analysis. A set of well defined Yersinia strains from Switzerland and Germany was used to create a method for FT-IR-based differentiation of Yersinia isolates at the species level. The isolates of Y. enterocolitica were also differentiated by FT-IR into the main biotypes (biotypes 1A, 2, and 4) and serotypes (serotypes O:3, O:5, O:9, and “non-O:3, O:5, and O:9”). For external validation of the constructed methods, independently obtained isolates of different Yersinia species were used. A total of 79.9% of Y. enterocolitica sensu stricto isolates were identified correctly at the species level. The FT-IR analysis allowed the separation of all Y. bercovieri, Y. intermedia, and Y. rohdei strains from Y. enterocolitica, which could not be differentiated by the API 20E test system. The probability for correct biotype identification of Y. enterocolitica isolates was 98.3% (41 externally validated strains). For correct serotype identification, the probability was 92.5% (42 externally validated strains). In addition, the presence or absence of the ail gene, one of the main pathogenicity markers, was demonstrated using FT-IR. The probability for correct identification of isolates concerning the ail gene was 98.5% (51 externally validated strains). This indicates that it is possible to obtain information about genus, species, and in the case of Y. enterocolitica also subspecies type with a single measurement. Furthermore, this is the first example of the identification of specific pathogenicity using FT-IR.
PMCID: PMC2747871  PMID: 19617388
7.  Oxygen-Insensitive Nitroreductases NfsA and NfsB of Escherichia coli Function under Anaerobic Conditions as Lawsone-Dependent Azo Reductases 
Quinones can function as redox mediators in the unspecific anaerobic reduction of azo compounds by various bacterial species. These quinones are enzymatically reduced by the bacteria and the resulting hydroquinones then reduce in a purely chemical redox reaction the azo compounds outside of the cells. Recently, it has been demonstrated that the addition of lawsone (2-hydroxy-1,4-naphthoquinone) to anaerobically incubated cells of Escherichia coli resulted in a pronounced increase in the reduction rates of different sulfonated and polymeric azo compounds. In the present study it was attempted to identify the enzyme system(s) responsible for the reduction of lawsone by E. coli and thus for the lawsone-dependent anaerobic azo reductase activity. An NADH-dependent lawsone reductase activity was found in the cytosolic fraction of the cells. The enzyme was purified by column chromatography and the amino-terminal amino acid sequence of the protein was determined. The sequence obtained was identical to the sequence of an oxygen-insensitive nitroreductase (NfsB) described earlier from this organism. Subsequent biochemical tests with the purified lawsone reductase activity confirmed that the lawsone reductase activity detected was identical with NfsB. In addition it was proven that also a second oxygen-insensitive nitroreductase of E. coli (NfsA) is able to reduce lawsone and thus to function under adequate conditions as quinone-dependent azo reductase.
PMCID: PMC161523  PMID: 12788749
8.  Identification of Quinoide Redox Mediators That Are Formed during the Degradation of Naphthalene-2-Sulfonate by Sphingomonas xenophaga BN6 
During aerobic degradation of naphthalene-2-sulfonate (2NS), Sphingomonas xenophaga strain BN6 produces redox mediators which significantly increase the ability of the strain to reduce azo dyes under anaerobic conditions. It was previously suggested that 1,2-dihydroxynaphthalene (1,2-DHN), which is an intermediate in the degradative pathway of 2NS, is the precursor of these redox mediators. In order to analyze the importance of the formation of 1,2-DHN, the dihydroxynaphthalene dioxygenase gene (nsaC) was disrupted by gene replacement. The resulting strain, strain AKE1, did not degrade 2NS to salicylate. After aerobic preincubation with 2NS, strain AKE1 exhibited much higher reduction capacities for azo dyes under anaerobic conditions than the wild-type strain exhibited. Several compounds were present in the culture supernatants which enhanced the ability of S. xenophaga BN6 to reduce azo dyes under anaerobic conditions. Two major redox mediators were purified from the culture supernatants, and they were identified by high-performance liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry and comparison with chemically synthesized standards as 4-amino-1,2-naphthoquinone and 4-ethanolamino-1,2-naphthoquinone.
PMCID: PMC124094  PMID: 12200285
9.  The Function of Cytoplasmic Flavin Reductases in the Reduction of Azo Dyes by Bacteria 
A flavin reductase, which is naturally part of the ribonucleotide reductase complex of Escherichia coli, acted in cell extracts of recombinant E. coli strains under aerobic and anaerobic conditions as an “azo reductase.” The transfer of the recombinant plasmid, which resulted in the constitutive expression of high levels of activity of the flavin reductase, increased the reduction rate for different industrially relevant sulfonated azo dyes in vitro almost 100-fold. The flavin reductase gene (fre) was transferred to Sphingomonas sp. strain BN6, a bacterial strain able to degrade naphthalenesulfonates under aerobic conditions. The flavin reductase was also synthesized in significant amounts in the Sphingomonas strain. The reduction rates for the sulfonated azo compound amaranth were compared for whole cells and cell extracts from both recombinant strains, E. coli, and wild-type Sphingomonas sp. strain BN6. The whole cells showed less than 2% of the specific activities found with cell extracts. These results suggested that the cytoplasmic anaerobic “azo reductases,” which have been described repeatedly in in vitro systems, are presumably flavin reductases and that in vivo they have insignificant importance in the reduction of sulfonated azo compounds.
PMCID: PMC92004  PMID: 10742223

Results 1-9 (9)