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Open Access Research article

Performance of five molecular methods for monitoring Arcobacter spp

Arturo Levican and María José Figueras*

Author Affiliations

Unitat de Microbiologia, Departament de Ciències Mediques Bàsiques, Facultat de Medicina i Ciències de la Salut. IISPV, Universitat Rovira i Virgili, Reus, Spain

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BMC Microbiology 2013, 13:220  doi:10.1186/1471-2180-13-220

Published: 3 October 2013



Bacteria belonging to the Arcobacter genus are emerging enteropathogens and potential zoonotic agents. Their taxonomy has evolved very rapidly, and there are presently 18 recorded species. The prevalence of species belonging to Arcobacter is underestimated because of the limitations of currently available methods for species identification.

The aim of this study was to compare the performance of five PCR based methods that target regions of 16S rRNA, 23S rRNA or gyrA genes to identify Arcobacter species, and to review previous results reported in the literature using these methods.


The five tested methods were found not to be reliable. They misidentified between 16.8% and 67.4% of the studied strains; this was dependent upon the target regions of the tested genes. The worst results obtained were for the identification of Arcobacter cryaerophilus and Arcobacter butzleri when the 23S rRNA gene was used as the target. These species were confused with many non-targeted species.


Our results suggest that the known diversity of Arcobacter spp. in different environments could be expanded if reliable identification methods are applied in future studies.

Arcobacter; Identification; Comparison; Molecular methods; 16S rRNA-RFLP; m-PCR; 23S rRNA; gyrA