Toxigenic Clostridium botulinum and nontoxigenic C. sporogenes, C. subterminale, and C. botulinum-like organisms from a variety of sources were screened for plasmids. Of the 68 toxigenic C. botulinum isolates, 56% carried one or more plasmids, ranging in mass from 2.1 to 81 megadaltons. Within individual groups (based on the type of neurotoxin produced), many strains showed identical plasmid banding patterns on agarose gels. Of the 15 nontoxigenic strains tested, 40% also carried one or more plasmids ranging from 1.7 to 25.0 megadaltons, with both unique and common banding patterns represented. A total of 67 plasmids from both toxigenic and nontoxigenic strains were detected. At this time, no phenotypic functions have been assessed for these plasmids, and they must therefore be considered cryptic. A variety of lysing and extraction techniques were necessary to detect plasmids in the different C. botulinum groups
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