Thirty-five isolates of Pasteurella multocida from the vagina and respiratory tract of sheep were compared by analysing their capsular polysaccharide types and outer membrane protein profiles. The phylogenetic relationships of selected isolates with respect to reference strains of P multocida were also determined by comparative 16S rRNA sequence analysis. Three capsular types, A, D and F, and three major outer membrane protein types were identified, and there were four different combinations of these characteristics which probably marked four individual clones of P multocida. Strains representing three of these clones were recovered from cases of ovine pneumonia, whereas isolates of the fourth clone were associated exclusively with the vagina of healthy ewes and the liver of a dead septicaemic lamb on the same farm. Analysis of the 16S rRNA sequences showed that there was 100 per cent identity between representative pneumonic isolates and reference strains of P multocida subspecies galliseptica and P multocida subspecies multocida. The 16S rRNA genes of representative vaginal and liver isolates from the same farm were identical but differed from the other strains at one nucleotide position, providing strong evidence that the vaginal and liver isolates represent a distinct subpopulation of P multocida.
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