Interest in the evolution of gonococcal auxotrophy led to a study of 72 strains isolated between 1935 and 1948 from the urogenital tract (57 patients), the eye (two patients), and from disseminated gonococcal infections (11 patients and probably two others). Two cervical isolates with nutritional requirements for proline, arginine, histidine, and biotin were oxidase-positive, Gram-negative diplococci, but their identity as Neisseria gonorrhoeae was uncertain because they were atypically susceptible to colistin and did not produce acid in glucose media. The N gonorrhoeae strains were highly susceptible to 11 other antibacterial drugs but not to sulphadiazine. Defects of one or more pathways for the biosynthesis of methionine, proline, arginine, threonine, lysine, the branched-chain amino acids, hypoxanthine, and thiamine pyrophosphate were found in 39 of the 70 strains, including four isolated in the presulphanilamide era. Unexpectedly, methionine was required for the growth of 11 (21%) of the 52 Danish strains and for 13 (72%) of 18 strains isolated in the USA. The Danish strains included 28 (54%) that did not require any of the compounds used for differentiating auxotypes, whereas this type was represented by only three (17%) of the USA strains. None of the gonococci required uracil or other pyrimidines. This suggests that the requirements for arginine, hypoxanthine, and uracil commonly found in recent isolates from disseminated gonococcal infections probably evolved treatment with sulphonamide was replaced by penicillin.
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