Mycoplasma gallisepticum (MG) conjunctivitis emerged in 1994 as a disease of free-ranging house finches (Carpodacus mexicanus) in North America and has also been isolated from other songbirds with conjunctivitis. Random amplification of polymorphic DNA (RAPD) of house finch and other songbird isolates has suggested that a single ‘strain’ initiated this outbreak. To explore the possibility of genomic variability among house finch isolates of MG and to evaluate the utility of a second technique for MG genotyping, we selected samples from our archive of reference strains and wild songbird isolates to analyze using both RAPD and amplified-fragment length polymorphism (AFLP); this is a newer technique that has been successfully used to explore the genomic variability of several Mycoplasma species. Both RAPD and AFLP results confirmed previous observations that during the initial stages of the MG epidemic in songbirds, isolates from different geographic locations and songbird species had genotypes that appeared to be highly similar, further supporting a single point source of origin. One 2001 isolate from New York was clearly different from the other songbird samples and clustered together with the vaccine and reference strains, indicating that substantial molecular evolution or a separate introduction has occurred.
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