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Analysis of the fatty acid methyl esters (FAMEs) of bacteria is a commonly used chemotaxonomic technique. Application of this methodology to spirochaetes associated with Lyme borreliosis revealed distinct clusters corresponding to three genetically distinguished groups: Borrelia burgdorferi sensu stricto, B. garinii, and the VS461 group. However, B. garinii formed a common group with B. hermsii, a relapsing fever spirochaete, and VS461 grouped with B. turicatae and B. parkeri, two other relapsing fever spirochaetes. The diversity in fatty acid profiles of Lyme disease spirochaetes has implications for the protean clinical manifestations of the disease.

Original publication




Journal article


J Gen Microbiol

Publication Date





2197 - 2201


Animals, Borrelia, Borrelia burgdorferi Group, Fatty Acids, Genetic Variation, Humans, Lyme Disease, Phylogeny, Relapsing Fever, Species Specificity, Ticks