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Investigations on the efficacy of routinely used phenotypic methods compared to genotypic approaches for the identification of staphylococcal species isolated from companion animals in Irish veterinary hospitals

Lisa Geraghty12*, Mary Booth12, Neil Rowan1 and Andrew Fogarty12

Author Affiliations

1 Biosciences Research Institute, Athlone Institute of Technology, Dublin Rd., Athlone, Co. Westmeath, Ireland

2 Department of Life and Physical Science, School of Science, Athlone Institute of Technology, Dublin Rd., Athlone, Ireland

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Irish Veterinary Journal 2013, 66:7  doi:10.1186/2046-0481-66-7

Published: 1 May 2013



Identification of Staphylococci to species level in veterinary microbiology is important to inform therapeutic intervention and management. We report on the efficacy of three routinely used commercial phenotypic methods for staphylococcal species identification, namely API Staph 32 (bioMérieux), RapID (Remel) and Staph-Zym (Rosco Diagnostica) compared to genotyping as a reference method to identify 52 staphylococcal clinical isolates (23 coagulase positive; 29 coagulase negative) from companion animals in Irish veterinary hospitals.


Genotyping of a 412 bp fragment of the staphylococcal tuf gene and coagulase testing were carried out on all 52 veterinary samples along with 7 reference strains. In addition, genotyping of the staphylococcal rpoB gene, as well as PCR-RFLP of the pta gene, were performed to definitively identify members of the Staphylococcus intermedius group (SIG). The API Staph 32 correctly identified all S. aureus isolates (11/11), 83% (10/12) of the SIG species, and 66% (19/29) of the coagulase negative species. RapID and Staph-Zym correctly identified 61% (14/23) and 0% (0/23) respectively of the coagulase-positives, and 10% (3/29) and 3% (1/29) respectively of the coagulase-negative species.


Commercially available phenotypic species identification tests are inadequate for the correct identification of both coagulase negative and coagulase positive staphylococcal species from companion animals. Genotyping using the tuf gene sequence is superior to phenotyping for identification of staphylococcal species of animal origin. However, use of PCR-RFLP of pta gene or rpoB sequencing is recommended as a confirmatory method for discriminating between SIG isolates.

Companion animals; Staphylococci species identification; Genotyping; tuf; rpoB