Molecular identification of environmental bacteria in indoor air in the domestic home: Description of a new species of Exiguobactetium

Ivan Yuan, Jiru Xu, B. Cherie Millar, James Dooley, Paul J. Rooney, H. Denis Alexander, John E. Moore

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)


The quality of indoor air in terms of its bioaerosol composition with microorganisms is important due to its potential aetiological role in development of conditions such as Sick Building Syndrome. Hence, laboratory identification of bacteriological components in any bioaerosol from buildings may help elucidate the role of such organisms in disease states, particularly allergy-related conditions. A molecular method was developed employing universal or ``broad-range'' eubacterial PCR to help identify environmental culturable bacteria from domestic household air. In a ``proof of concept'' experiment, 16S rDNA PCR was performed on a collection of bacterial isolates originating from indoor air in the domestic home. 16S rDNA PCR was performed using a set of universal primers to successfully generate an amplicon of approximately 1400 bp, which was sequenced to obtain each isolate's identity. Sequence analysis was able to identify 12/13 of the isolates, whereby the majority were Gram-positive (12/13). Nine different genera were identified from the 13 isolates examined, of which, 12/13 were Gram-positive, with the exception being Moraxella osloensis, which was Gram-negative, as well as a novel species of Exiguobacterium. The closest phylogenetic neighbour of the wildtype isolate to a named species within this genus was E. aestuarii (1364/1384 bases; 98.4% homology), followed by E marinum (97.5%) and with E. acetylicum being the most distantly related of all the described species. On account of this divergence within the 16S rDNA gene operon of the unknown Exiguobacterium isolate, we believe this isolate to represent a novel species of Exiguobacterium, which we have tentatively named Exiguobacterium belfastensis. Although from this study, these organisms are usually unlikely to be clinically significant to healthy individuals with a competent immune system, we recommend that molecular identification methods are used, if considered necessary, as an adjunct to first line phenotypic identification schemes, where a definitive identification is required. When the use of molecular identification methods is justified, employment of partial 16S rDNA PCR and sequencing provides a valuable and reliable method of identification of environmental bacteria in the home. This study demonstrates the usefulness of such methods and a full and comprehensive study is now required to examine the diversity of bacteria in indoor air in the home, with particular emphasis on the risk of such environmental organisms to immunosurpressed patients, such as those with haematological malignancies and who are neutropenic.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)75-82
JournalInternational Journal of Environmental Health Research
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished (in print/issue) - Feb 2007


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