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Species-specific sequences were shown to be carried by plasmids of the three main species of Borrelia burgdorferi sensu lato involved in
Lyme disease. Libraries of the 16-, 33-, and 25-kb plasmids of B. burgdorferi sensu stricto, Borrelia garinii, and Borrelia afzelii, respectively, were then built and used to isolate species-specific sequences. After sequencing of the cloned inserts, three sets of primers were designed. They were shown to determine species-specific PCR amplification products. The sensitivities of the PCR assay with these primers were 100 spirochetes for B. burgdorferi sensu stricto and 1,000 spirochetes for B. garinii and B. afzelii. The usefulness of these primers for the identification of species in biological samples (tick, serum, and cerebrospinal fluid samples) was ascertained.