Streptococcus agalactiae (group B streptococci) isolates from infected infants have been demonstrated to have three- to fourfold or higher levels of cell-associated lipoteichoic acid than isolates from asymptomatically colonized infants, suggesting a role for this cell surface polymer in the relative virulence of these organisms. The present study indicates that symptomatic isolates of type III group B streptococci can be readily differentiated from asymptomatic strains by their response to various levels of phosphate in a chemically defined medium (FMC). Both classes of isolates had the same doubling time (T(D) of 30 to 35 min) in FMC containing 65 mM sodium phosphate. However, levels of phosphate >125 mM distinguished the two classes of strains. Asymptomatic strains pregrown in 65 mM phosphate to the stationary phase rapidly initiated growth at elevated phosphate levels, while symptomatic strains initiated growth only after a prolonged incubation period (>400 min). These results suggest that the physiological growth response of clinical isolates of group B streptococci to phosphate can serve as a diagnostic aid in screening potentially virulent strains in pregnant women and newborn infants.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Microbiology (medical)