Epidemiology and Infection

Characterization of Klebsiella terrigena strains from humans: haemagglutinins, serum resistance, siderophore synthesis, and serotypes

a1 Department of Medical Microbiology and Virology, University of Kiel, Brunswiker Str. 4, 24105 Kiel, Germany


Klebsiella terrigena is very rarely isolated from humans; as yet, its clinical significance is uncertain. The aim of the present study was to evaluate whether this species is able to express putative virulence factors. A total of 72 faecal (n = 50) and clinical (n = 22) K. terrigena isolates was investigated and compared with faecal and clinical strains of K. pneumoniae. Mannose-sensitive haemagglutination (MSHA) was observed less often in K. terrigena (64–74%) than in K. pneumoniae strains. In contrast, the incidence of mannose-resistant haemagglutinin indicative of type 3 pili (MR/K-HA) (77–94%), serum resistance properties (10–23%), and production of enterobactin (100%) was similar in both species. None of the K. terrigena isolates were able to synthesize aerobactin; however, the frequency of aerobactin synthesis in K. pneumoniae was also only 5%. Serotyping showed capsular types K5 and K70 to be predominant. The virulence-associated serotype K2 was common in both K. terrigena and K. pneumoniae isolates. Taken together, the present results suggest that K. terrigena and K. pneumoniae are indistinguishable with respect to the expression of virulence factors.

(Accepted March 6 2000)

c1 Author for correspondence.