Diversity of Escherichia coli O157 in a longitudinal farm study using multiple-locus variable-number tandem-repeat analysis

A. M. Urdahl, N. J. C. Strachan, Y. Wasteson, M. MacRae, I. D. Ogden

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Aims: To perform a longitudinal study of the diversity of Escherichia coli O157 from a ruminant pasture/stream environment using multiple-locus variable-number tandem-repeat analysis (MLVA).
Methods and Results: Samples of faecal droppings from grazing ruminants and from an adjacent stream were tested longitudinally for E. coli O157 by enrichment and immunomagnetic separation (IMS). Using MLVA, 24 different profiles were identified from a total of 231 E. coli O157 isolates, of which 80 were included in a similarity analysis. Four main clusters with several subclusters were observed. Although there was close contact between sheep and cattle during the study period, E. coli O157 was surprisingly not detected from cattle faeces.
Conclusions: The cluster analysis indicated both unrelated and closely related E. coli O157 strains. The choice of loci to target in MLVA is important for the subtyping result, as loci with high diversities are essential for discriminating between closely related isolates.
Significance and Impact of the Study: There is a lack of data available on the use of MLVA to describe E. coli O157 diversity and changes over time in the animal reservoirs and the environment. Such data are needed in order to further develop MLVA as a typing method.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1344-1353
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Applied Microbiology
Issue number5
Early online date8 Jul 2008
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2008


  • E. coli O157
  • farm environment
  • longitudinal
  • MLVA
  • sheep
  • beef-cattle
  • infected cattle
  • feedlot cattle
  • dairy farms
  • prevalence
  • pasture
  • feces
  • survival
  • calves

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