Pulsed-Field Gel Electrophoresis (PFGE) is a powerful molecular tool with high discriminatory power. Reliability and reproducibility makes PFGE a “gold standard” in epidemiological investigations seeking to identify the source of illness. DNA typing is used by the CDC in disease surveillance.

It can be important to determine the DNA type of the bacteria causing illness. Using PFGE, the organism’s DNA is digested and separated to produce a banding pattern of DNA fragments. This pattern is known as the genetic fingerprint.

The “fingerprint” of the bacteria from the patient is compared to the “fingerprint” of the bacteria from the environment. If they match, the results support a link between the environmental source and the patient.

PFGE can also be used to compare bacterial strains from different patients. This information will help determine if there is an outbreak situation, or if the patients acquired the infection from different sources. The answer to these questions may have infection control implications. 

Test Method 

A modified version of the CDC’s PulseNet protocol for E.coli O157:H7, Salmonella, and Shigella.

Test Code


Turn Around Time

3–4 weeks 

Sample Transport

Submit isolate on a slant or agar plate of Buffered Charcoal Yeast Extract (BCYE) in double containment packaging according to IATA regulations for shipping Biological Substances, Category B (UN3373). Contact us you have questions.