• Yersinia enterocolitica ;
  • biotype 1A;
  • virulence markers;
  • molecular epidemiology;
  • genotyping

Yersinia enterocolitica biotype 1A (B1A) strains are considered as non-pathogenic; however, some reports have identified some strains as the causal agents of infection. In South America, few studies molecularly characterized the strains of this biotype. This work typed 51 B1A strains isolated from clinical and non-clinical sources from Brazil and Chile by Enterobacterial Repetitive Intergenic Consensus-PCR (ERIC-PCR) to elucidate their genotypic diversity, and verify the distribution of 11 virulence markers by PCR. The strains were divided into two groups, ERIC-A and ERIC-B, clustered independently of their clinical or non-clinical origin. No differences were observed in the frequencies of the virulence markers between clinical and non-clinical strains. However, the genes ystB, hreP and myfA occurred exclusively in the strains of the group ERIC-A. Some clinical and non-clinical strains were clustered in the same genetic group and presented the same number of virulence markers, which might suggest the role of the environment and food as a potential source of infection for humans and animals. The results corroborate with the hypothesis that B1A strains are divided into two main clusters that differ in the frequency of some virulence markers, a fact observed for the first time in South American strains.