Multiple-locus variable number tandem repeats analysis for genetic fingerprinting of pathogenic bacteria


  • Bjørn-Arne Lindstedt

    Corresponding author
    1. Norwegian Institute of Public Health, Division for Infectious Diseases Control, Oslo, Norway
    • Division for Infectious Diseases Control, Norwegian Institute of Public Health, PO Box 4404 Nydalen, 0403 Oslo, Norway Fax: +47-22-042-518
    Search for more papers by this author


DNA fingerprinting has attracted considerable interest as means for identifying, tracing and preventing the dissemination of infectious agents. Various methods have been developed for typing of pathogenic bacteria, which differ in discriminative power, reproducibility and ease of interpretation. During recent years a typing method, which uses the information provided by whole genome sequencing of bacterial species, has gained increased attention. Short sequence repeat (SSR) motifs are known to undergo frequent variation in the number of repeated units through cellular mechanisms most commonly active during chromosome replication. A class of SSRs, named variable number of tandem repeats (VNTRs), has proven to be a suitable target for assessing genetic polymorphisms within bacterial species. This review attempts to give an overview of bacterial agents where VNTR-based typing, or multiple-locus variant-repeat analysis (MLVA) has been developed for typing purposes, together with addressing advantages and drawbacks associated with the use of tandem repeated DNA motifs as targets for bacterial typing and identification.