Streptococcus agalactiae strains freshly isolated from bovine mastitis cases clumped within 15 min of addition of small amounts of bovine milk to a broth culture. This reaction was not observed with isolates from human infections or bovine strains that had been maintained in the laboratory for extensive periods. Intensity of the clumping response as measured by a microtiter dilution assay was highly variable. Analysis of several single colony isolates derived from one strain indicated that the clumping phenotype was genetically unstable. The clumping reaction took place in the presence of rifampicin or chloramphenicol. Milk components that caused aggregation were heat stable, relatively insensitive to proteases, and were larger than 10,000 daltons. Purified casein also induced clumping in these strains.
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We thank R. Ledford and H. Farrell for pro-riding materials and helpful discussions during this investigation and S. G. Campbell and J. Desiderio for antibovine globulin. This work was supported by the H. Wetterburg Foundation and by USDA Grant #82-CRSR-2-2023.