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Comparative biochemical and molecular evaluation of swarming of <i>Proteus</i> and effects of anti-swarm agents

BA Iwalokun
YA Olukosi
A Adejoro
JA Olaye
O Fashade


In addition to inadequate understanding of swarming motility and virulence of Proteus, there is paucity of information on the relative effectiveness of the various anti-swarm agents. The anti-swarming effects of urea, sodium dodecylsulphate (SDS) and trihydroxymethylglycine (Tris) on 40 clinical isolates of Proteus Spp. were comparatively investigated and plasmids associated with swarming were characterized. The three substances elicited a comparable concentration-dependent anti-swarming property at 0.25 – 1.25% on nutrient agar. Anti-swarm agents displayed heterogeneity in their ability to cause significant decreases in the expression of virulence factors. Swarm motility was further found to be strongly associated with the expression of virulence factors in these strains. Of the Proteus strains tested, 32 were found to harbour 1 – 4 plasmids of size ranging from 6.0 – 33.5 kb. Plasmid curing resulted in loss of swarming in 65.6% of these strains. In order to reduce the risk of infection with virulent Proteus strains, the laboratory use of urea and SDS is suggested.

Key Words: Proteus, swarming, urea, SDS, Tris.

African Journal of Biotechnology Vol.3(1) 2004: 99-104

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eISSN: 1684-5315