Is E. coli Distinct Enough to Join the Hunt?

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Science  29 Mar 2002:
Vol. 295, Issue 5564, pp. 2353
DOI: 10.1126/science.295.5564.2353

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Underlying many bacterial source-tracking techniques is the assumption that some strains of bacteria are found only within a single kind or group of animals. But the idea of host specificity may be wrong when it comes to the common fecal bacteria Escherichia coli, some microbiologists argue. E. coli populations are so mercurial that scientists should think twice before using them for source tracking. Others say that new techniques may still make the bacterium a tracking star.