Pasteurella haemolytica isolates (n = 31) from two isolated captive herds of Rocky Mountain bighorn sheep (Ovis canadensis canadensis) were characterized and compared phenotypically (biotype, serotype, hemolytic activity) and by a genomic fingerprinting method known as ribotyping. Seven to nine distinct phenotypes were observed. Depending on the method used for serotyping, one to three phenotypes were common to both herds. Eighteen isolates, recovered from both herds, were non-hemolytic, biotype T, indirect hemagglutination assay serotype 4. Ribotyping, a method for highlighting genetically conserved deoxyribonucleic acid restriction site heterogeneity with a 32P-labelled Escherichia coli ribosomal ribonucleic acid probe, produced six to eight distinct ribotype pattern groups within the 31 P. haemolytica isolates, depending on the restriction enzyme used. In contrast to phenotypes, ribotypes appeared unique to each herd, and ribotyping helped to further differentiate some isolates of the same biotype and serotype. In addition, ribotyping provided an alternative means for evaluating relationships between isolates differing in hemolytic activity but which were otherwise phenotypically identical. We propose that ribotyping may be a useful adjunct to other bacterial characterization methods in studying the epizootiology of pasteurellosis in bighorn sheep.
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Vol. 28 • No. 3