The Roche Cobas Amplicor MTB assay, recently replaced by the Roche Cobas TaqMan MTB assay, was one of the first commercially available assays for detection of the Mycobacterium tuberculosis complex based on nucleic acid amplification. We reported previously on the limited specificity of the Cobas Amplicor MTB assay, in particular for positive samples with an optical density at 660 nm (OD660) of <2.0. Using a selected set of respiratory samples, which were scored as false positive by the Cobas Amplicor test, we demonstrate here that the specificity of the Cobas TaqMan assay is significantly improved. In addition, our study of a set of 133 clinical samples revealed that the Cobas TaqMan MTB assay showed significantly less PCR inhibition than the Cobas Amplicor test. An overall concordance of 98.2% was observed between the two assays. In a subsequent prospective study, we evaluated the performance of the Roche Cobas TaqMan MTB assay on 1,143 clinical specimens, including respiratory (n = 838) and nonrespiratory (n = 305) specimens. Using culture as the gold standard, we found a sensitivity of 88.4% and a specificity of 98.8% for the 838 respiratory specimens, compared to a sensitivity of 63.6% and a specificity of 94.6% for the 305 nonrespiratory specimens. We conclude that the Cobas TaqMan MTB assay is a significantly improved tool for the direct detection of M. tuberculosis DNA in clinical specimens.
The Xpert MTB/RIF assay is a rapid and fully automated real-time PCR assay. The performance of the Xpert MTB/RIF assay as a primary screening test for urgent clinical specimens was evaluated during a 2-year period. The results showed that replacing smear microscopy with the Xpert MTB/RIF assay facilitates laboratory handling and improves the sensitivity and specificity of Mycobacterium tuberculosis detection.
Matrix-assisted laser desorption ionization–time of flight mass spectrometry (MALDI-TOF MS) is increasingly used for the identification of bacteria and fungi in the diagnostic laboratory. We evaluated the mold database of Bruker Daltonik (Bremen, Germany), the Filamentous Fungi Library 1.0. First, we studied 83 phenotypically and molecularly well-characterized, nondermatophyte, nondematiaceous molds from a clinical strain collection. Using the manufacturer-recommended interpretation criteria, genus and species identification rates were 78.3% and 54.2%, respectively. Reducing the species cutoff from 2.0 to 1.7 significantly increased species identification to 71.1% without increasing misidentifications. In a subsequent prospective study, 200 consecutive clinical mold isolates were identified by the MALDI Biotyper and our conventional identification algorithm. Discrepancies were resolved by ribosomal DNA (rDNA) internal transcribed spacer region sequence analysis. For the MALDI Biotyper, genus and species identification rates were 83.5% and 79.0%, respectively, when using a species cutoff of 1.7. Not identified were 16.5% of the isolates. Concordant genus and species assignments of MALDI-TOF MS and the conventional identification algorithm were observed for 98.2% and 64.2% of the isolates, respectively. Four erroneous species assignments were observed using the MALDI Biotyper. The MALDI Biotyper seems highly reliable for the identification of molds when using the Filamentous Fungi Library 1.0 and a species cutoff of 1.7. However, expansion of the database is required to reduce the number of nonidentified isolates.
Neoehrlichiosis caused by “Candidatus Neoehrlichia mikurensis” is an emerging zoonotic disease. In total, six patients have been described in Europe, with the first case detected in 2007. In addition, seven patients from China were described in a report published in October 2012. In 2009, we diagnosed the first human case of “Ca. Neoehrlichia mikurensis” infection in the Zurich area (Switzerland). Here, we report two additional human cases from the same region, which were identified by broad-range 16S rRNA gene PCR. Both patients were immunocompromised and presented with similar clinical syndromes, including fever, malaise, and weight loss. A diagnostic multiplex real-time PCR was developed for specific detection of “Ca. Neoehrlichia mikurensis” infections. The assay is based on the signature sequence of a 280-bp fragment of the “Ca. Neoehrlichia mikurensis” 16S rRNA gene and incorporates a “Ca. Neoehrlichia mikurensis” species, a “Ca. Neoehrlichia” genus, and an Anaplasmataceae family probe for simultaneous screening. The analytical sensitivity was determined to be below five copies of the “Ca. Neoehrlichia mikurensis” 16S rRNA gene. Our results show that the assay is suitable for the direct detection of “Ca. Neoehrlichia mikurensis” DNA in clinical samples from, for example, blood and bone marrow. In addition, it allows for monitoring treatment response during antibiotic therapy. Using the same assay, DNA extracts from 1,916 ticks collected in four forests in close proximity to the patients' residences (<3 km) were screened. At all sampling sites, the minimal prevalence of “Ca. Neoehrlichia mikurensis” was between 3.5 to 8% in pools of either nymphs, males, or females, showing a strong geographic association between the three patients and the assumed vector.
Antibiotic therapy of infections caused by the emerging pathogen Mycobacterium abscessus is challenging due to the organism's natural resistance toward most clinically available antimicrobials. We investigated the bactericidal activity of antibiotics commonly administered in M. abscessus infections in order to better understand the poor therapeutic outcome. Time-kill curves were generated for clinical M. abscessus isolates, Mycobacterium smegmatis, and Escherichia coli by using antibiotics commonly categorized as bactericidal (amikacin and moxifloxacin) or bacteriostatic (tigecycline and linezolid). In addition, the impact of aminoglycoside-modifying enzymes on the mode of action of substrate and nonsubstrate aminoglycosides was studied by using M. smegmatis as a model organism. While amikacin and moxifloxacin were bactericidal against E. coli, none of the tested compounds showed bactericidal activity against M. abscessus. Further mechanistic investigations of the mode of action of aminoglycosides in M. smegmatis revealed that the bactericidal activity of tobramycin and gentamicin was restored by disruption of the chromosomal aac(2′) gene in the mycobacterial genome. The lack of bactericidal antibiotics in currently recommended treatment regimens provides a reasonable explanation for the poor therapeutic outcome in M. abscessus infection. Our findings suggest that chromosomally encoded drug-modifying enzymes play an important role in the lack of aminoglycoside bactericidal activity against rapidly growing mycobacteria.
Reported matrix-assisted laser desorption ionization–time of flight mass spectrometry (MALDI-TOF MS) identification rates of Gram-positive rods (GPR) are low compared to identification rates of Gram-positive cocci. In this study, three sample preparation methods were compared for MALDI-TOF MS identification of 190 well-characterized GPR strains: direct transfer, direct transfer-formic acid preparation, and ethanol-formic acid extraction. Using the interpretation criteria recommended by the manufacturer, identification rates were significantly higher for direct transfer-formic acid preparation and ethanol-formic acid extraction than for direct transfer. Reducing the species cutoff from 2.0 to 1.7 significantly increased species identification rates. In a subsequent prospective study, 215 clinical GPR isolates were analyzed by MALDI-TOF MS, and the results were compared to those for identification using conventional methods, with discrepancies being resolved by 16S rRNA and rpoB gene analysis. Using the direct transfer-formic acid preparation and a species cutoff of 1.7, congruencies on the genus and species levels of 87.4% and 79.1%, respectively, were achieved. In addition, the rate of nonidentified isolates dropped from 12.1% to 5.6% when using an extended database, i.e., the Bruker database amended by reference spectra of the 190 GPR of the retrospective study. Our data demonstrate three ways to improve GPR identification by the Bruker MALDI Biotyper, (i) optimize sample preparation using formic acid, (ii) reduce cutoff scores for species identification, and (iii) expand the database. Based on our results, we suggest an identification algorithm for the clinical laboratory combining MALDI-TOF MS with nucleic acid sequencing.
We have repeatedly detected Candidatus Neoehrlichia mikurensis, a bacterium first described in Rattus norvegicus rats and Ixodes ovatus ticks in Japan in 2004 in the blood of a 61-year-old man with signs of septicemia by 16S rRNA and groEL gene PCR. After 6 weeks of therapy with doxycycline and rifampin, the patient recovered.
Candidatus Neoehrlichia mikurensis; septicemia; human infection; 16S rRNA gene PCR; therapy; tick-borne pathogen; bacteria; dispatch
Many bacteria causing systemic invasive infections originate from the oral cavity by entering the bloodstream. Recently, a novel pathogenic bacterium, Streptococcus tigurinus, was identified as causative agent of infective endocarditis, spondylodiscitis and meningitis. In this study, we sought to determine the prevalence of S. tigurinus in the human oral microbial flora and analyzed its association with periodontal disease or health.
We developed a diagnostic highly sensitive and specific real-time TaqMan PCR assay for detection of S. tigurinus in clinical samples, based on the 16S rRNA gene. We analyzed saliva samples and subgingival plaque samples of a periodontally healthy control group (n = 26) and a periodontitis group (n = 25). Overall, S. tigurinus was detected in 27 (53%) out of 51 patients. There is no significant difference of the frequency of S. tigurinus detection by RT-PCR in the saliva and dental plaque samples in the two groups: in the control group, 14 (54%) out of 26 individuals had S. tigurinus either in the saliva samples and/or in the plaque samples; and in the periodontitis group, 13 (52%) out of 25 patients had S. tigurinus in the mouth samples, respectively (P = 0.895). The consumption of nicotine was no determining factor.
Although S. tigurinus was a frequently detected species of the human oral microbial flora, it was not associated with periodontal disease. Further investigations are required to determine whether S. tigurinus is a commensal or an opportunistic oral pathogen with a potential for development of invasive infections.
Streptococcus tigurinus; Specific RT TaqMan PCR; Periodontitis; Oral microbiome
Xpert-MTB/Rif is one of the most frequently used molecular screening tests for multidrug-resistant tuberculosis worldwide. We report false-negative assay results in the presence of rpoB Leu533Pro, which is associated with low-level phenotypic rifampin resistance. Accurate and timely confirmation of rifampin susceptibility results obtained with Xpert-MTB/Rif is imperative.
This study compared three sample preparation methods (direct transfer, the direct transfer-formic acid method with on-target formic acid treatment, and ethanol-formic acid extraction) for the identification of Gram-positive cocci with matrix-assisted laser desorption ionization–time of flight mass spectrometry (MALDI-TOF MS). A total of 156 Gram-positive cocci representing the clinically most important genera, Aerococcus, Enterococcus, Staphylococcus, and Streptococcus, as well as more rare genera, such as Gemella and Granulicatella, were analyzed using a Bruker MALDI Biotyper. The rate of correct genus-level identifications was approximately 99% for all three sample preparation methods. The species identification rate was significantly higher for the direct transfer-formic acid method and ethanol-formic acid extraction (both 77.6%) than for direct transfer (64.1%). Using direct transfer-formic acid compared to direct transfer, the total time to result was increased by 22.6%, 16.4%, and 8.5% analyzing 12, 48, and 96 samples per run, respectively. In a subsequent prospective study, 1,619 clinical isolates of Gram-positive cocci were analyzed under routine conditions by MALDI-TOF MS, using the direct transfer-formic acid preparation, and by conventional biochemical methods. For 95.6% of the isolates, a congruence between conventional and MALDI-TOF MS identification was observed. Two major limitations were found using MALDI-TOF MS: the differentiation of members of the Streptococcus mitis group and the identification of Streptococcus dysgalactiae. The Bruker MALDI Biotyper system using the direct transfer-formic acid sample preparation method was shown to be a highly reliable tool for the identification of Gram-positive cocci. We here suggest a practical algorithm for the clinical laboratory combining MALDI-TOF MS with phenotypic and molecular methods.
Accurate identification of fastidious Gram-negative rods (GNR) by conventional phenotypic characteristics is a challenge for diagnostic microbiology. The aim of this study was to evaluate the use of molecular methods, e.g., 16S rRNA gene sequence analysis for identification of fastidious GNR in the clinical microbiology laboratory.
A total of 158 clinical isolates covering 20 genera and 50 species isolated from 1993 to 2010 were analyzed by comparing biochemical and 16S rRNA gene sequence analysis based identification. 16S rRNA gene homology analysis identified 148/158 (94%) of the isolates to species level, 9/158 (5%) to genus and 1/158 (1%) to family level. Compared to 16S rRNA gene sequencing as reference method, phenotypic identification correctly identified 64/158 (40%) isolates to species level, mainly Aggregatibacter aphrophilus, Cardiobacterium hominis, Eikenella corrodens, Pasteurella multocida, and 21/158 (13%) isolates correctly to genus level, notably Capnocytophaga sp.; 73/158 (47%) of the isolates were not identified or misidentified.
We herein propose an efficient strategy for accurate identification of fastidious GNR in the clinical microbiology laboratory by integrating both conventional phenotypic methods and 16S rRNA gene sequence analysis. We conclude that 16S rRNA gene sequencing is an effective means for identification of fastidious GNR, which are not readily identified by conventional phenotypic methods.
Fastidious Gram-negative rods; 16S rRNA gene; Conventional phenotypic methods
We recently described the novel species Streptococcus tigurinus sp. nov. belonging to the Streptococcus mitis group. The type strain AZ_3aT of S. tigurinus was originally isolated from a patient with infective endocarditis. According to its phenotypic and molecular characteristics, S. tigurinus is most closely related to Streptococcus mitis, Streptococcus pneumoniae, Streptococcus pseudopneumoniae, Streptococcus oralis, and Streptococcus infantis. Accurate identification of S. tigurinus is facilitated by 16S rRNA gene analysis. We retrospectively analyzed our 16S rRNA gene molecular database, which contains sequences of all clinical samples obtained in our institute since 2003. We detected 17 16S rRNA gene sequences which were assigned to S. tigurinus, including sequences from the 3 S. tigurinus strains described previously. S. tigurinus originated from normally sterile body sites, such as blood, cerebrospinal fluid, or heart valves, of 14 patients and was initially detected by culture or broad-range 16S rRNA gene PCR, followed by sequencing. The 14 patients had serious invasive infections, i.e., infective endocarditis (n = 6), spondylodiscitis (n = 3), bacteremia (n = 2), meningitis (n = 1), prosthetic joint infection (n = 1), and thoracic empyema (n = 1). To evaluate the presence of Streptococcus tigurinus in the endogenous oral microbial flora, we screened saliva specimens of 31 volunteers. After selective growth, alpha-hemolytic growing colonies were analyzed by matrix-assisted laser desorption ionization–time of flight mass spectrometry (MALDI-TOF MS) and subsequent molecular methods. S. tigurinus was not identified among 608 strains analyzed. These data indicate that S. tigurinus is not widely distributed in the oral cavity. In conclusion, S. tigurinus is a novel agent of invasive infections, particularly infective endocarditis.
In this prospective study all Enterobacteriaceae isolates (n = 2,129) recovered in the clinical microbiology laboratory during October 2009 to April 2010 were analyzed for AmpC production. Clinical and Laboratory Standards Institute (CLSI) cefoxitin and cefotetan susceptibility breakpoints and CLSI critical ESBL diameters were used to screen for potential AmpC producers. In total, 305 isolates (211 potential AmpC producers and 94 AmpC screen-negative isolates as a control group) were further analyzed by multiplex PCR for the detection of plasmid-encoded ampC beta-lactamase genes and by ampC promoter sequence analysis (considered as the gold standard). Cefoxitin and cefotetan were assessed as primary screening markers. The sensitivities of cefoxitin and cefotetan for the detection of AmpC production were 97.4 and 52.6%, respectively, and the specificities were 78.7 and 99.3%, respectively. As a phenotypic confirmation test, the Etest AmpC and the cefoxitin-cloxacillin double-disk synergy method (CC-DDS) were compared. The sensitivities for the Etest AmpC and the CC-DDS method were 77.4 and 97.2%, respectively, and the specificity was 100% for both methods. The results of the Etest AmpC were inconclusive for 10 isolates. With the CC-DDS method 2 inconclusive results were observed. Based on this study, we propose a comprehensive diagnostic flow chart for the detection of AmpC production consisting of a simple phenotypic screening and a single phenotypic confirmation test with inconclusive results being resolved by molecular analysis. For the proposed flow chart using (i) cefoxitin as a screening marker for AmpC production, (ii) the CC-DDS method as phenotypic confirmation, and (iii) molecular methods in case of inconclusive results, the sensitivity and specificity for AmpC detection would have been 97.4 and 100%, respectively, with respect to the studied isolates. The phenotypic methods used in the AmpC algorithm are simple to perform and easy to implement in the diagnostic laboratory.
The zebrafish embryo is an important in vivo model to study the host innate immune response towards microbial infection. In most zebrafish infectious disease models, infection is achieved by micro-injection of bacteria into the embryo. Alternatively, Edwardsiella tarda, a natural fish pathogen, has been used to treat embryos by static immersion. In this study we used transcriptome profiling and quantitative RT-PCR to analyze the immune response induced by E. tarda immersion and injection.
Mortality rates after static immersion of embryos in E. tarda suspension varied between 25-75%, while intravenous injection of bacteria resulted in 100% mortality. Quantitative RT-PCR analysis on the level of single embryos showed that expression of the proinflammatory marker genes il1b and mmp9 was induced only in some embryos that were exposed to E. tarda in the immersion system, whereas intravenous injection of E. tarda led to il1b and mmp9 induction in all embryos. In addition, microarray expression profiles of embryos subjected to immersion or injection showed little overlap. E. tarda-injected embryos displayed strong induction of inflammatory and defense genes and of regulatory genes of the immune response. E. tarda-immersed embryos showed transient induction of the cytochrome P450 gene cyp1a. This gene was also induced after immersion in Escherichia coli and Pseudomonas aeruginosa suspensions, but, in contrast, was not induced upon intravenous E. tarda injection. One of the rare common responses in the immersion and injection systems was induction of irg1l, a homolog of a murine immunoresponsive gene of unknown function.
Based on the differences in mortality rates between experiments and gene expression profiles of individual embryos we conclude that zebrafish embryos cannot be reproducibly infected by exposure to E. tarda in the immersion system. Induction of il1b and mmp9 was consistently observed in embryos that had been systemically infected by intravenous injection, while the early transcriptional induction of cyp1a and irg1l in the immersion system may reflect an epithelial or other tissue response towards cell membrane or other molecules that are shed or released by bacteria. Our microarray expression data provide a useful reference for future analysis of signal transduction pathways underlying the systemic innate immune response versus those underlying responses to external bacteria and secreted virulence factors and toxins.
Clinical isolates that are difficult to identify by conventional means form a valuable source of novel human pathogens. We report on a 5-year study based on systematic 16S rRNA gene sequence analysis. We found 60 previously unknown 16S rRNA sequences corresponding to potentially novel bacterial taxa. For 30 of 60 isolates, clinical relevance was evaluated; 18 of the 30 isolates analyzed were considered to be associated with human disease.
The implementation of internal transcribed spacer (ITS) sequencing for routine identification of molds in the diagnostic mycology laboratory was analyzed in a 5-year study. All mold isolates (n = 6,900) recovered in our laboratory from 2005 to 2009 were included in this study. According to a defined work flow, which in addition to troublesome phenotypic identification takes clinical relevance into account, 233 isolates were subjected to ITS sequence analysis. Sequencing resulted in successful identification for 78.6% of the analyzed isolates (57.1% at species level, 21.5% at genus level). In comparison, extended in-depth phenotypic characterization of the isolates subjected to sequencing achieved taxonomic assignment for 47.6% of these, with a mere 13.3% at species level. Optimization of DNA extraction further improved the efficacy of molecular identification. This study is the first of its kind to testify to the systematic implementation of sequence-based identification procedures in the routine workup of mold isolates in the diagnostic mycology laboratory.
We describe the identification of two bacterial pathogens from a culture-negative brain abscess by the use of broad-spectrum 16S rRNA gene PCR. Simultaneous detection of Fusobacterium nucleatum and Porphyromonas endodontalis was possible due to a 24-bp length difference of their partially amplified 16S rRNA genes, which allowed separation by high-resolution polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis.
Secondary metabolites are important factors for interactions between bacteria and other organisms. Pseudomonas chlororaphis PCL1391 produces the antifungal secondary metabolite phenazine-1-carboxamide (PCN) that inhibits growth of Fusarium oxysporum f. sp. radius lycopersici the causative agent of tomato foot and root rot. Our previous work unraveled a cascade of genes regulating the PCN biosynthesis operon, phzABCDEFGH. Via a genetic screen, we identify in this study a novel TetR/AcrR regulator, named Pip (phenazine inducing protein), which is essential for PCN biosynthesis. A combination of a phenotypical characterization of a pip mutant, in trans complementation assays of various mutant strains, and electrophoretic mobility shift assays identified Pip as the fifth DNA-binding protein so far involved in regulation of PCN biosynthesis. In this regulatory pathway, Pip is positioned downstream of PsrA (Pseudomonas sigma factor regulator) and the stationary-phase sigma factor RpoS, while it is upstream of the quorum-sensing system PhzI/PhzR. These findings provide further evidence that the path leading to the expression of secondary metabolism gene clusters in Pseudomonas species is highly complex.
Pseudomonas putida strain PCL1445 produces two cyclic lipopeptides, putisolvin I and putisolvin II, which possess surface tension-reducing abilities and are able to inhibit biofilm formation and to break down existing biofilms of several Pseudomonas spp., including P. aeruginosa. Putisolvins are secreted in the culture medium during growth at late exponential phase, indicating that production is possibly regulated by quorum sensing. In the present study, we identified a quorum-sensing system in PCL1445 that is composed of ppuI, rsaL, and ppuR and shows very high similarity with gene clusters of P. putida strains IsoF and WCS358. Strains with mutations in ppuI and ppuR showed a severe reduction of putisolvin production. Expression analysis of the putisolvin biosynthetic gene in a ppuI background showed decreased expression, which could be complemented by the addition of synthetic 3-oxo-C10-N-acyl homoserine lactone (3-oxo-C10-AHL) or 3-oxo-C12-AHL to the medium. An rsaL mutant overproduces AHLs, and production of putisolvins is induced early during growth. Analysis of biofilm formation on polyvinylchloride showed that ppuI and ppuR mutants produce a denser biofilm than PCL1445, which correlates with decreased production of putisolvins, whereas an rsaL mutant shows a delay in biofilm production, which correlates with early production of putisolvins. The results demonstrate that quorum-sensing signals induce the production of cyclic lipopeptides putisolvin I and II and consequently control biofilm formation by Pseudomonas putida.
Pseudomonas putida PCL1445 produces two cyclic lipopeptides, putisolvins I and II, which possess surfactant activity and play an important role in biofilm formation and degradation. In order to identify genes and traits that are involved in the regulation of putisolvin production of PCL1445, a Tn5luxAB library was generated and mutants were selected for the lack of biosurfactant production using a drop-collapsing assay. Sequence analysis of the Tn5luxAB flanking region of one biosurfactant mutant, strain PCL1627, showed that the transposon had inserted in a dnaK homologue which is located downstream of grpE and upstream of dnaJ. Analysis of putisolvin production and expression studies indicate that dnaK, together with the dnaJ and grpE heat shock genes, takes part in the positive regulation (directly or indirectly) of putisolvin biosynthesis at the transcriptional level. Growth of PCL1445 at low temperature resulted in an increased level of putisolvins, and mutant analyses showed that this requires dnaK and dnaJ but not grpE. In addition, putisolvin biosynthesis of PCL1445 was found to be dependent on the GacA/GacS two-component signaling system. Expression analysis indicated that dnaK is positively regulated by GacA/GacS.
Pseudomonas sp. strain PCL1171 displays colony phase variation between opaque phase I and translucent phase II colonies, thereby regulating the production of secondary metabolites and exoenzymes. Complementation and sequence analysis of 26 phase II mutants and of 13 wild-type phase II sectors growing out of phase I colonies showed that in all these cases the phase II phenotype is caused by spontaneous mutations in gacA or/and gacS. Mutation of gac reduced both the length of the lag phase and the generation time. Isolation and sequencing of the gacS genes from the phase II bacteria revealed one insertion as well as several random point mutations, deletions, and DNA rearrangements. Most phase II colonies reverted with a high frequency, resulting in wild-type gacA and gacS genes and a phase I phenotype. Some phase II bacteria retained the phase II phenotype but changed genotypically as a result of (re)introduction of mutations in either gacA or gacS. The reversion of gacA or gacS to the wild type was not affected by mutation of recA and recB. We conclude that in Pseudomonas sp. strain PCL1171, mutations in gacA and gacS are the basis for phase variation from phase I to phase II colonies and that, since these mutations are efficiently removed, mutations in gac result in dynamic switches between the “wild-type” population and the subpopulations harboring spontaneous mutations in gacA and or gacS, thereby enabling both populations to be maintained.
A recently published procedure to enrich for efficient competitive root tip colonizers (I. Kuiper, G. V. Bloemberg, and B. J. J. Lugtenberg, Mol. Plant-Microbe Interact. 14:1197-1205) after bacterization of seeds was applied to isolate efficient competitive root tip colonizers for both the dicotyledenous plant tomato and the monocotyledenous plant grass from a random Tn5luxAB mutant bank of the good root colonizer Pseudomonas fluorescens WCS365. Unexpectedly, the best-colonizing mutant, strain PCL1286, showed a strongly enhanced competitive root-tip-colonizing phenotype. Sequence analyses of the Tn5luxAB flanking regions showed that the transposon had inserted in a mutY homolog. This gene is involved in the repair of A · G mismatches caused by spontaneous oxidation of guanine. We hypothesized that, since the mutant is defective in repairing its mismatches, its cells harbor an increased number of mutations and therefore can adapt faster to the environment of the root system. To test this hypothesis, we constructed another mutY mutant and analyzed its competitive root tip colonization behavior prior to and after enrichment. As a control, a nonmutated wild type was subjected to the enrichment procedure. The results of these analyses showed (i) that the enrichment procedure did not alter the colonization ability of the wild type, (ii) that the new mutY mutant was strongly impaired in its colonization ability, but (iii) that after three enrichment cycles it colonized significantly better than its wild type. Therefore it is concluded that both the mutY mutation and the selection procedure are required to obtain an enhanced root-tip-colonizing mutant.