DNA primers corresponding to conserved repetitive interspersed genomic motifs and PCR were used to show that REP, ERIC and BOX-like DNA sequences are present in marine, oxidative, gram-negative Pseudoalteromonas strains. REP, ERIC and BOX-PCR were used for rapid molecular characterization of both the type species of the genus and environmental strains isolated from samples collected in different geographical areas. PCR-generated genomic fingerprint patterns were found to be both complex and strain specific. Analysis of the genotypic structure of phenotypically diverse P. citrea revealed a geographic clustering of Far Eastern brown-pigmented, agar-digesting strains of this species. Marine isolates of P. nigrifaciens with 67-70% DNA relatedness generated genomic patterns different from those of the type strain and formed a separate cluster. It is concluded that REP, ERIC and BOX-PCR are effective in generating strain specific patterns that can be used to elucidate geographic distribution, with these genomic patterns providing a valuable biogeographic criterion.