Molecular genetic relationships of the salmonellae.
A multilocus enzyme electrophoresis analysis of 96 strains of the salmonellae distinguished 80 electrophoretic types (ETs) and placed them in eight groups, seven of which correspond precisely to the seven taxonomic groups (I, II, IIIa, IIIb, IV, V, and VI) previously defined on the basis of biotype and genomic DNA hybridization. In addition, multilocus enzyme electrophoresis identified an eighth distinctive group (designated VII) composed of five strains that had been assigned to group IV on the basis of biotype. An analysis of variation in the combined nucleotide sequences of five housekeeping genes among 16 strains representing all eight groups yielded estimates of overall genetic relationships that are fully consistent with those indicated by DNA hybridization. However, the nucleotide sequences of seven invasion genes (inv/spa) in the strains of group VII were closely similar to those of strains of group IV. These findings are interpreted as evidence that group VII represents an old, differentiated lineage to which one or more large parts of the chromosomal genome of the group IV lineage, including the 40-kb segment on which the invasion genes are located, have been horizontally transferred. All lines of molecular genetic evidence indicate that group V is very strongly differentiated from all other groups, thus supporting its current taxonomic treatment as a species, Salmonella bongori, separate from S. enterica. The Salmonella Reference Collection C, composed of the 16 strains used in DNA sequence studies, has been established for research on variation in natural populations.