Fifty Borrelia isolates from ticks and rodents from several geographic regions of the southern United States were analyzed by genomic macrorestriction analysis. Significant genetic diversity was observed among them. These isolates segregated into 4 major clusters and 10 subclusters, which are correlated with the genospecies distribution. Nineteen pulsed-field gel electrophoresis (PFGE) types were recognized among the isolates. The genospecies Borrelia andersonii and Borrelia bissettii consisted of 5 and 2 subclusters, respectively. Two subclusters comprised the Borrelia burgdorferi sensu stricto (s. s.) strains. These results indicated that PFGE is a suitable molecular typing method for B. burgdorferi at both the genospecies and strain levels. Seventeen representative isolates from different PFGE groups were analyzed by restriction fragment length polymorphism (RFLP) and sequence analysis of flaB. Twenty-three AluI, 3 CelII, and 11 DdeI RFLP patterns were found among strains from the B. burgdorferi sensu lato (s. l.) complex and the relapsing fever borreliae complex. Three genospecies in the B. burgdorferi s. l. complex and 1 species in the relapsing fever borreliae complex were recognized. Phylogenetic analysis based on nucleotide sequences of flaB indicated that all the Borrelia strains analyzed here could be divided into 2 parts, i.e., B. burgdorferi s. l. complex and the relapsing fever borreliae complex. The flaB appears to be a useful target gene to screen and identify strains from both B. burgdorferi s. l. and relapsing fever borreliae complexes.
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