The Bacillus anthracis strain STI is a Soviet vaccine strain that lacks the pXO2 plasmid. Previous data indicate that this isolate forms a new branch within the B. anthracis sub-group originally identified as A. Br.008/009.
Glanders, caused by the gram-negative bacterium Burkholderia mallei, is a highly infectious zoonotic disease of solipeds causing severe disease in animals and men. Although eradicated from many Western countries, it recently emerged in Asia, the Middle-East, Africa, and South America. Due to its rareness, little is known about outbreak dynamics of the disease and its epidemiology.
Coxiella burnetii causes Q fever in humans and Coxiellosis in animals; symptoms range from general malaise to fever, pneumonia, endocarditis and death. Livestock are a significant source of human infection as they shed C. burnetii cells in birth tissues, milk, urine and feces. Although prevalence of C. burnetii is high, few Q fever cases are reported in the U.S. and we have a limited understanding of their connectedness due to difficulties in genotyping. Here, we develop canonical SNP genotyping assays to evaluate spatial and temporal relationships among C. burnetii environmental samples and compare them across studies. Given the genotypic diversity of historical collections, we hypothesized that the current enzootic of Coxiellosis is caused by multiple circulating genotypes. We collected A) 23 milk samples from a single bovine herd, B) 134 commercial bovine and caprine milk samples from across the U.S., and C) 400 bovine and caprine samples from six milk processing plants over three years.
Information about the genotypic characteristic of Coxiella burnetii from Hungary is lacking. The aim of this study is to describe the genetic diversity of C. burnetii in Hungary and compare genotypes with those found elsewhere. A total of 12 samples: (cattle, n?=?6, sheep, n?=?5 and human, n?=?1) collected from across Hungary were studied by a 10-loci multispacer sequence typing (MST) and 6-loci multiple-locus variable-number of tandem repeat analysis (MLVA). Phylogenetic relationships among MST genotypes show how these Hungarian samples are related to others collected around the world.
Rooting phylogenies is critical for understanding evolution, yet the importance, intricacies and difficulties of rooting are often overlooked. For rooting, polymorphic characters among the group of interest (ingroup) must be compared to those of a relative (outgroup) that diverged before the last common ancestor (LCA) of the ingroup. Problems arise if an outgroup does not exist, is unknown, or is so distant that few characters are shared, in which case duplicated genes originating before the LCA can be used as proxy outgroups to root diverse phylogenies. Here, we describe a genome-wide expansion of this technique that can be used to solve problems at the other end of the evolutionary scale: where ingroup individuals are all very closely related to each other, but the next closest relative is very distant. We used shared orthologous single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) from 10 whole genome sequences of Coxiella burnetii, the causative agent of Q fever in humans, to create a robust, but unrooted phylogeny. To maximize the number of characters informative about the rooting, we searched entire genomes for polymorphic duplicated regions where orthologs of each paralog could be identified so that the paralogs could be used to root the tree. Recent radiations, such as those of emerging pathogens, often pose rooting challenges due to a lack of ingroup variation and large genomic differences with known outgroups. Using a phylogenomic approach, we created a robust, rooted phylogeny for C. burnetii. [Coxiella burnetii; paralog SNPs; pathogen evolution; phylogeny; recent radiation; root; rooting using duplicated genes.].
We confirm a natural infection of dromedaries with glanders. Multilocus variable number tandem repeat analysis of a Burkholderia mallei strain isolated from a diseased dromedary in Bahrain revealed close genetic proximity to strain Dubai 7, which caused an outbreak of glanders in horses in the United Arab Emirates in 2004.
Coxiella burnetii has the potential to cause serious disease and is highly prevalent in the environment. Despite this, epidemiological data are sparse and isolate collections are typically small, rare, and difficult to share among laboratories as this pathogen is governed by select agent rules and fastidious to culture. With the advent of whole genome sequencing, some of this knowledge gap has been overcome by the development of genotyping schemes, however many of these methods are cumbersome and not readily transferable between institutions. As comparisons of the few existing collections can dramatically increase our knowledge of the evolution and phylogeography of the species, we aimed to facilitate such comparisons by extracting SNP signatures from past genotyping efforts and then incorporated these signatures into assays that quickly and easily define genotypes and phylogenetic groups. We found 91 polymorphisms (SNPs and indels) among multispacer sequence typing (MST) loci and designed 14 SNP-based assays that could be used to type samples based on previously established phylogenetic groups. These assays are rapid, inexpensive, real-time PCR assays whose results are unambiguous. Data from these assays allowed us to assign 43 previously untyped isolates to established genotypes and genomic groups. Furthermore, genotyping results based on assays from the signatures provided here are easily transferred between institutions, readily interpreted phylogenetically and simple to adapt to new genotyping technologies.
Rapid assignment of bacterial pathogens into predefined populations is an important first step for epidemiological tracking. For clonal species, a single allele can theoretically define a population. For non-clonal species such as Burkholderia pseudomallei, however, shared allelic states between distantly related isolates make it more difficult to identify population defining characteristics. Two distinct B. pseudomallei populations have been previously identified using multilocus sequence typing (MLST). These populations correlate with the major foci of endemicity (Australia and Southeast Asia). Here, we use multiple Bayesian approaches to evaluate the compositional robustness of these populations, and provide assignment results for MLST sequence types (STs). Our goal was to provide a reference for assigning STs to an established population without the need for further computational analyses. We also provide allele frequency results for each population to enable estimation of population assignment even when novel STs are discovered. The ability for humans and potentially contaminated goods to move rapidly across the globe complicates the task of identifying the source of an infection or outbreak. Population genetic dynamics of B. pseudomallei are particularly complicated relative to other bacterial pathogens, but the work here provides the ability for broad scale population assignment. As there is currently no independent empirical measure of successful population assignment, we provide comprehensive analytical details of our comparisons to enable the reader to evaluate the robustness of population designations and assignments as they pertain to individual research questions. Finer scale subdivision and verification of current population compositions will likely be possible with genotyping data that more comprehensively samples the genome. The approach used here may be valuable for other non-clonal pathogens that lack simple group-defining genetic characteristics and provides a rapid reference for epidemiologists wishing to track the origin of infection without the need to compile population data and learn population assignment algorithms.
Melioidosis is caused by Burkholderia pseudomallei, a Gram-negative bacillus, primarily found in soils in Southeast Asia and northern Australia. A recent case of melioidosis in non-endemic Arizona was determined to be the result of locally acquired infection, as the patient had no travel history to endemic regions and no previous history of disease. Diagnosis of the case was confirmed through multiple microbiologic and molecular techniques. To enhance the epidemiological analysis, we conducted several molecular genotyping procedures, including multi-locus sequence typing, SNP-profiling, and whole genome sequence typing. Each technique has different molecular epidemiologic advantages, all of which provided evidence that the infecting strain was most similar to those found in Southeast Asia, possibly originating in, or around, Malaysia. Advancements in new typing technologies provide genotyping resolution not previously available to public health investigators, allowing for more accurate source identification.
The island of New Guinea is located midway between the worlds two major melioidosis endemic regions of Australia and Southeast Asia. Previous studies in Papua New Guinea have demonstrated autochthonous melioidosis in Balimo, Western province. In contrast to other regions of endemicity, isolates recovered from both environmental and clinical sources demonstrate narrow genetic diversity over large spatial and temporal scales.
Little is currently known about bacterial pathogen evolution and adaptation within the host during acute infection. Previous studies of Burkholderia pseudomallei, the etiologic agent of melioidosis, have shown that this opportunistic pathogen mutates rapidly both in vitro and in vivo at tandemly repeated loci, making this organism a relevant model for studying short-term evolution. In the current study, B. pseudomallei isolates cultured from multiple body sites from four Thai patients with disseminated melioidosis were subjected to fine-scale genotyping using multilocus variable-number tandem repeat analysis (MLVA). In order to understand and model the in vivo variable-number tandem repeat (VNTR) mutational process, we characterized the patterns and rates of mutations in vitro through parallel serial passage experiments of B. pseudomallei. Despite the short period of infection, substantial divergence from the putative founder genotype was observed in all four melioidosis cases. This study presents a paradigm for examining bacterial evolution over the short timescale of an acute infection. Further studies are required to determine whether the mutational process leads to phenotypic alterations that impact upon bacterial fitness in vivo. Our findings have important implications for future sampling strategies, since colonies in a single clinical sample may be genetically heterogeneous, and organisms in a culture taken late in the infective process may have undergone considerable genetic change compared with the founder inoculum.
We collected epidemiologic and molecular data from Burkholderia mallei isolates from equines in Punjab, Pakistan from 1999 through 2007. We show that recent outbreaks are genetically distinct from available whole genome sequences and that these genotypes are persistent and ubiquitous in Punjab, probably due to human-mediated movement of equines.
Phylogeographic reconstruction of some bacterial populations is hindered by low diversity coupled with high levels of lateral gene transfer. A comparison of recombination levels and diversity at seven housekeeping genes for eleven bacterial species, most of which are commonly cited as having high levels of lateral gene transfer shows that the relative contributions of homologous recombination versus mutation for Burkholderia pseudomallei is over two times higher than for Streptococcus pneumoniae and is thus the highest value yet reported in bacteria. Despite the potential for homologous recombination to increase diversity, B. pseudomallei exhibits a relative lack of diversity at these loci. In these situations, whole genome genotyping of orthologous shared single nucleotide polymorphism loci, discovered using next generation sequencing technologies, can provide very large data sets capable of estimating core phylogenetic relationships. We compared and searched 43 whole genome sequences of B. pseudomallei and its closest relatives for single nucleotide polymorphisms in orthologous shared regions to use in phylogenetic reconstruction.
Endemic melioidosis is caused by genetically diverse Burkholderia pseudomallei strains. However, clonal outbreaks (multiple cases caused by 1 strain) have occurred, such as from contaminated potable water. B. pseudomallei is designated a group B bioterrorism agent, which necessitates rapidly recognizing point-source outbreaks. Pulsed-field gel electrophoresis (PFGE) and multilocus sequence typing (MLST) can identify genetically related isolates, but results take several days to obtain. We developed a simplified 4-locus multilocus variable number tandem repeat analysis (MLVA-4) for rapid typing and compared results with PFGE and MLST for a large number of well-characterized B. pseudomallei isolates. MLVA-4 compared favorably with MLST and PFGE for the same isolates; it discriminated between 65 multilocus sequence types and showed relatedness between epidemiologically linked isolates from outbreak clusters and between isolates from individual patients. MLVA-4 can establish or refute that a clonal outbreak of melioidosis has occurred within 8 hours of receipt of bacterial strains.
Single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) are abundant in genomes of all species and biologically informative markers extensively used across broad scientific disciplines. Newly identified SNP markers are publicly available at an ever-increasing rate due to advancements in sequencing technologies. Efficient, cost-effective SNP genotyping methods to screen sample populations are in great demand in well-equipped laboratories, but also in developing world situations. Dual Probe TaqMan assays are robust but can be cost-prohibitive and require specialized equipment. The Mismatch Amplification Mutation Assay, coupled with melt analysis (Melt-MAMA), is flexible, efficient and cost-effective. However, Melt-MAMA traditionally suffers from high rates of assay design failures and knowledge gaps on assay robustness and sensitivity. In this study, we identified strategies that improved the success of Melt-MAMA. We examined the performance of 185 Melt-MAMAs across eight different pathogens using various optimization parameters. We evaluated the effects of genome size and %GC content on assay development. When used collectively, specific strategies markedly improved the rate of successful assays at the first design attempt from ~50% to ~80%. We observed that Melt-MAMA accurately genotypes across a broad DNA range (~100 ng to ~0.1 pg). Genomic size and %GC content influence the rate of successful assay design in an independent manner. Finally, we demonstrated the versatility of these assays by the creation of a duplex Melt-MAMA real-time PCR (two SNPs) and conversion to a size-based genotyping system, which uses agarose gel electrophoresis. Melt-MAMA is comparable to Dual Probe TaqMan assays in terms of design success rate and accuracy. Although sensitivity is less robust than Dual Probe TaqMan assays, Melt-MAMA is superior in terms of cost-effectiveness, speed of development and versatility. We detail the parameters most important for the successful application of Melt-MAMA, which should prove useful to the wider scientific community.
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