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European Journal of Microbiology and Immunology
Authors: Andreas E. Zautner, A. Malik Tareen, U. Groß, and R. Lugert


Chemotaxis is the common way of flagellated bacteria to direct their locomotion to sites of most favourable living conditions, that are sites with the highest concentrations of energy sources and the lowest amounts of bacteriotoxic substances. The general prerequisites for chemotaxis are chemoreceptors, a chemosensory signal-transduction system and the flagellar apparatus.

Epsilonproteobacteria like Campylobacter sp. show specific variations of the common chemotaxis components. CheV, a CheWlike linking-protein with an additional response regulator (RR) domain, was identified as commonly used coupling scaffold protein of Campylobacter jejuni. It attaches the histidine autokinase (CheAY), which also has an additional RR-domain, to the chemoreceptors signalling domains. Theses additional RR-domains seem to play an important role in the regulation of the CheAY-phosphorylation state and thereby in sensory adaptation.

The Campylobacter-chemoreceptors are arranged into the three groups A, B, and C. Group A contains membrane-anchored receptors sensing periplasmic signals, group B consists only of one receptor with two cytoplasmic ligand-proteins representing a bipartite energy taxis system that senses pyruvate and fumarate, and group C receptors are cytoplasmic signalling domains with mostly unknown cytoplasmic ligand-binding proteins as sensory constituents. Recent findings demonstrating different alleles of the TLP7 chemoreceptor, specific for formic acid, led to an amendment of this grouping.

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Campylobacter spp. is the most common bacterial pathogen of gastroenteritis worldwide. Poultry is the main reservoir and consequently the main origin of infections for humans. As a consequence of a primary Campylobacter infection which typically manifests as diarrhea, there is an increased risk to suffer from post-infectious complications such as reactive arthritis, neuropathia, myositis or a Guillain-Barré Syndrome. Usually the verification of acute campylobacteriosis is made by stool culture. In contrast, post-infectious complications can be diagnosed by serological assays. Since most of them are based on whole cell lysates, an insufficient specificity results from cross-reactions between related species. Therefore, the use of recombinant antigens becomes more and more favorable. Campylobacter is able to secrete a number of proteins, which are amongst others necessary for cell invasion and therefore play a crucial role for virulence. One of these, Cj0069, has a similar specificity and sensitivity in the detection of anti-Campylobacter jejuni IgG compared to the well-established antigens OMP18 and P39. This makes it a suitable antigen for diagnosing C. jejuni post-infectious complications.

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Campylobacter jejuni and Campylobacter coli are among the leading causes of gastroenteritis in humans worldwide, particularly in Africa. Poultry remains a major source of Campylobacter species and a vector of transmission to humans.

This pilot study was aimed at isolating and determining the antibiotic susceptibility profiles of Campylobacter spp. from fresh poultry droppings collected from poultry farms in Lagos State, Nigeria. Susceptibility was assessed using the CLSI standards.

Standard microbiological methods were used in isolation, identification, and characterization of Campylobacter spp. Isolates were subjected to antibiotic susceptibility testing by the disk diffusion method.

Of the 150 poultry droppings analyzed, 8 (5.3%) harbored Campylobacter spp. All isolates proved to be C. coli since they were all negative for the hip gene. A percentage of 100% showed resistance to nalidixic acid, chloramphenicol, cloxacillin, and streptomycin. While 87.5% were susceptible to amoxicillin and amoxicillin/clavulanic acid, 62.5% were susceptible to tetracycline. Surprisingly, 62.5% of C. coli had decreased (intermediate) susceptibility to erythromycin.

Although there was a low prevalence of C. coli from poultry in this study, the presence of antibiotic resistant strains circulating the food chain could result in treatment failures and difficulty in case management if involved in infections of humans.

Open access
European Journal of Microbiology and Immunology
Authors: Raimond Lugert, Uwe Groß, Wycliffe O. Masanta, Gunter Linsel, Astrid Heutelbeck, and Andreas E. Zautner

Psittacosis is a zoonotic infectious disease that is caused by Chlamydophila psittaci. To determine the occupational risk of getting the infection, we investigated the seroprevalence of C. psittaci among employees of two German duck farms and two slaughterhouses according to their level of exposure to the pathogen during the years 2010, 2007, and 2004. In summary, we found low seroprevalence (≈ 8%) throughout the study population almost irrespective of the duty of a given worker. Surprisingly, in 2010, the anti-C. psittaci-specific antibody prevalence in the group of slaughterer (38.9%) was significantly increased in comparison to the non-exposed employees (p = 0.00578). This indicates that individuals in the surrounding of slaughterhouses exposed especially to aerosols containing C. psittaci elementary bodies bear a greater occupational risk of getting infected.

Open access
European Journal of Microbiology and Immunology
Authors: Norah Lynn-Anne Mund, Wycliffe Omurwa Masanta, Anne-Marie Goldschmidt, Raimond Lugert, Uwe Groß, and Andreas E. Zautner

Campylobacter jejuni’s flagellar locomotion is controlled by eleven chemoreceptors. Assessment of the distribution of the relevant chemoreceptor genes in the C. jejuni genomes deposited in the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI) database led to the identification of two previously unknown tlp genes and a tlp5 pseudogene. These two chemoreceptor genes share the same locus in the C. jejuni genome with tlp4 and tlp11, but the gene region encoding the periplasmic ligand binding domain differs significantly from other chemoreceptor genes. Hence, they were named tlp12 and tlp13.

Consequently, it was of interest to study their distribution in C. jejuni subpopulations of different clonality, and their cooccurrence with the eleven previously reported chemoreceptor genes. Therefore, the presence of all tlp genes was detected by polymerase chain reaction (PCR) in 292 multilocus sequence typing (MLST)-typed C. jejuni isolates from different hosts.

The findings show interesting trends: Tlp4, tlp11, tlp12, and tlp13 appeared to be mutually exclusive and cooccur in a minor subset of isolates. Tlp4 was found to be present in only 33.56% of all tested isolates and was significantly less often detected in turkey isolates. Tlp11 was tested positive in only 17.8% of the isolates, while tlp12 was detected in 29.5% of all isolates, and tlp13 was found to be present in 38.7%.

Open access
European Journal of Microbiology and Immunology
Authors: Matthias F. Emele, Matti Karg, Helmut Hotzel, Linda Graaf-van Bloois, Uwe Groß, Oliver Bader, and Andreas E. Zautner

Campylobacter fetus is a causative agent of intestinal illness and, occasionally, severe systemic infections and meningitis. C. fetus currently comprises three subspecies: C. fetus subspecies fetus (Cff), C. fetus subspecies venerealis (Cfv), and C. fetus subspecies testudinum (Cft). Cff and Cfv are primarily associated with mammals whereas Cft is associated with reptiles.

To offer an alternative to laborious sequence-based techniques such as multilocus sequence typing (MLST) and polymerase chain reaction (PCR)-ribotyping for this species, the purpose of the study was to develop a typing scheme based on proteotyping.

In total, 41 representative C. fetus strains were analyzed by intact cell mass spectrometry and compared to MLST results. Biomarkers detected in the mass spectrum of C. fetus subsp. fetus reference strain LMG 6442 (NCTC 10842) as well as corresponding isoforms were associated with the respective amino acid sequences and added to the C. fetus proteotyping scheme.

In combination, the 9 identified biomarkers allow the differentiation of Cft subspecies strains from Cff and Cfv subspecies strains. Biomarkers to distinguish between Cff and Cfv were not found. The results of the study show the potential of proteotyping to differentiate different subspecies, but also the limitations of the method.

Open access
European Journal of Microbiology and Immunology
Authors: Anja Dörschug, Julian Schwanbeck, Andreas Hahn, Anke Hillebrecht, Sabine Blaschke, Uwe Groß, Markus M. Heimesaat, Hagen Frickmann, and Andreas E. Zautner



To efficiently monitor the COVID-19 pandemic for surveillance purposes, reliable serological rapid diagnostic tests (RDTs) are desirable for settings where well-established high-throughput bench-top solutions are not available. Here, we have evaluated such an RDT.


We have assessed the Xiamen AmonMed Biotechnology COVID-19 IgM/IgG test kit (Colloidal gold) and the EUROIMMUN benchtop assay with serum samples from patients with polymerase chain reaction (PCR)-confirmed COVID-19 disease. Samples from patients with Epstein-Barr-virus (EBV) infection and blood donors were used for specificity testing.


For the colloid gold rapid test and the EUROIMMUN assay, the study indicated overall sensitivity of 15.2% and 67.4%, respectively, while specificity of 99.0% and 97.9% with the blood donor sera, as well as 100% and 96.8% with the EBV-patients, were observed, respectively. An association of the time period between positive PCR results and serum acquisition with serological test positivity could be observed for the immunologlobulin G subclass of the EUROIMMUN assay only.


In spite of acceptable specificity of the assessed RDT, the detected poor sensitivity leaves room for improvement. The test results remain difficult to interpret and therefore the RDT can currently not be recommended for routine diagnostic or surveillance use.

Open access