Accreditationism challenges Salmonella serotyping

It’s not inspectable enough…

Salmonella enterica

Applied and Environmental Microbiology, November 2011,p. 7877-7885, Vol. 77, No. 22.  0099-2240/11/$12.00+0    doi:10.1128/AEM.05527-11
Copyright © 2011, American Society for Microbiology.

Methodologies for Salmonella enterica subsp. enterica Subtyping: Gold Standards and Alternatives

Pierre Wattiau1*, Cécile Boland1, and Sophie Bertrand2

Veterinary & Agrochemical Research Centre, Highly Pathogenic & Food Borne Zoonoses Unit, Groeselenbergstr. 99, B-1180 Brussels, Belgium,1 National Reference Centre for Salmonella and Shigella, Bacterial Diseases Division, Communicable and Infectious Diseases, Scientific Institute of Public Health, Brussels, Belgium2

For more than 80 years, subtyping of Salmonella enterica has been routinely performed by serotyping, a method in which surface antigens are identified based on agglutination reactions with specific antibodies. The serotyping scheme, which is continuously updated as new serovars are discovered, has generated over time a data set of the utmost significance, allowing long-term epidemiological surveillance of Salmonella in the food chain and in public health control. Conceptually, serotyping provides no information regarding the phyletic relationships inside the different Salmonella enterica subspecies. In epidemiological investigations, identification and tracking of salmonellosis outbreaks require the use of methods that can fingerprint the causative strains at a taxonomic level far more specific than the one achieved by serotyping. During the last 2 decades, alternative methods that could successfully identify the serovar of a given strain by probing its DNA have emerged, and molecular biology-based methods have been made available to address phylogeny and fingerprinting issues. At the same time, accredited diagnostics have become increasingly generalized, imposing stringent methodological requirements in terms of traceability and measurability. In these new contexts, the hand-crafted character of classical serotyping is being challenged, although it is widely accepted that classification into serovars should be maintained. This review summarizes and discusses modern typing methods, with a particular focus on those having potential as alternatives for classical serotyping or for subtyping Salmonella strains at a deeper level.

* Corresponding author. Mailing address: Veterinary & Agrochemical Research Centre, Highly Pathogenic & Food Borne Zoonoses Unit, Groeselenbergstr. 99, B-1180 Brussels, Belgium. Phone: 32 2 3790441. Fax: 32 2 3790670. E-mail: Pierre.Wattiau@CODA-CERVA.BE .

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